Olympic champion decathlete Damian Warner has been named Canada’s athlete of the year for 2021.
Warner won the vote on Wednesday after a season highlighted by his gold medal in Tokyo this summer.
The other finalists were sprinter Andre De Grasse, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bayern Munich left back and reigning Lou Marsh co-winner Alphonso Davies, women’s national soccer team goalkeeper and gold medallist Stephanie Labbé, and three-time Olympic medallist Maggie Mac Neil. Media members from across the country vote on the award.
The 32-year-old Warner, from London, Ont. set an Olympic record with 9,018 points in August, becoming Canada’s first champion in the event in Summer Games history.
Canada then named Warner the flag-bearer for the closing ceremony.
Warner is the first decathlete to be named Canada’s athlete of the year. NFL star Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and soccer star Alphonso Davies tied for the award in 2020.
He is the first track and field athlete to win since sprinter Donovan Bailey earned the honour after capturing two Olympic gold medals in 1996.
The Canadian Athlete of the Year has been presented as the Lou Marsh Trophy since 1936, with a three-year pause coming during World War II. In recent weeks the name on the trophy has been called into question because of former Toronto Star sports editor Marsh’s history of racist comments while writing about sports in Canada in the early 1900s.
Last month the Star started taking a deeper look at Marsh’s work, commissioning a study headed by Dr. Janice Forsyth, an associate professor of sociology at Western University. After the study’s results are released next year, a decision will be about the future of the name on the trophy.