In a fitting bit of symmetry, the announcement of the nominees for the 2012 Sport B.C. athletes of the year came out Thursday on the same day as the Oscar list.
A heavyweight cast is headed by cyclist Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria and soccer great Christine Sinclair of Burnaby. They were earlier named the respective national male and female athletes of the year for 2012 by the Canadian Press. The provincial athletics awards will be announced on March 7, at the River Rock Show Theatre in Richmond.
An Island battle looms in the B.C. men’s senior athlete of the year category with Giro d’Italia champion Hesjedal up against fellow-Victorian Ryan Cochrane, the 1,500-metre swimmer who won an Olympic silver medal in London.
A third nomination went to 1,500-metre long-track world champion speedskater Denny Morrison of Fort St. John.
In a surprise omission, London Olympics bronze-medallist open-water swimmer Richard Weinberger of Victoria was overlooked.
Sinclair, who led the Canadian Olympic women's soccer team to a controversial near-upset of the U.S. in the semifinals before winning bronze at London, is up against London Olympic bronze-medallist weightlifter Christine Girard of Burnaby as well as world No. 1 ski-cross racer Marielle Thompson of Whistler in the senior women’s category.
London Olympic bronze-medallist cyclist Gillian Carleton of Victoria was left on the outside, as were the B.C. rowers on the Olympic silver-medallist Canadian men’s and women’s eights.
Balloting was conducted by media and amateur sport officials throughout the province.
Potential nominees are required to be nominated by their provincial sport organization, high school or university.
Rob Newman, Sport B.C. president and CEO, noted “a significant number of very strong nominations received this year … [that] are certainly a testament to the strength and depth of sport in our province.”
Two London Paralympic medallists from Parksville — wheelchair rugby player Trevor Hirschfield and wheelchair racer Michelle Stilwell — were nominated as top B.C. athletes with a disability.
A pair of Victoria coaches who guided athletes to medals in London — Randy Bennett in swimming at the Olympics and Peter Lawless in wheelchair sports at the Paralympics — are up for coach of the year.
Three Islanders — all-rounders Maddie Secco of Oak Bay, Chelsea Strandlund of Lambrick Park and rugby star Fergus Hall of GNS — were nominated in the high school category.
Nanaimo’s Len Kirby from equestrian is up for official of the year.
The overwhelming Penticton Vees, who set a North American junior hockey record with 42 consecutive wins en route to the RBC Cup national title, were nominated for B.C. team of the year as were CIS national champions TWU men’s volleyball and UBC women's swimming.
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