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The Sport Information Resource Centre

Sport Nova Scotia – Halifax, NS (May 24, 2016) – National greats, provincial record-smashers and homegrown international champions were highlighted today, as Sport Nova Scotia announced the names of the finalists for the 2016 Ricoh Sport Awards.

“We have an exciting group of finalists to highlight this year,” said Jamie Ferguson, CEO of Sport Nova Scotia. “Among them, we have a fourteen-year-old soccer phenom, a crowd-thrilling basketball team that ended a nearly 30-year drought, a Parapan Am Games gold medalist, and an Olympic veteran who is favoured to be on the podium in Rio. There are stories of obstacles for the best junior curlers on the planet, a soccer official who is one of only four female referees in Canada appointed to the FIFA referee list, and a 32 year-old top national gymnast who is only getting better with age.”

The Ricoh Sport Awards recognize the achievements of Nova Scotia’s greatest athletes, teams, coaches, officials, and volunteers in amateur sport over the past year. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Ricoh’s title sponsorship.

“Each of these nominees has already been selected by their provincial sport organization as the best in their sport. They have then come through a rigorous selection process where they are judged against the best from numerous other sports, and emerged on top,” says Ferguson. “They are the types of people who inspire us and, through their leadership, help build our sport system.  Nova Scotians can be very proud of this group.”

Over 180 selections were submitted by Provincial Sport Organizations. From those, overall finalists were selected based on their best achievement of the season, in addition to their performance throughout the year.

The overall finalists were announced in seven of the ten categories. Biographies on each appear further down. They are:

The RICOH Team of the Year

Basketball Nova Scotia U17 Boys Provincial Team

Una Lounder and Genevieve Orton, CanoeKayak

Team Canada/Fay, Curling

 

The RICOH Female Individual Athlete of the Year

Ellie Black, Gymnastics

Pam LeJean, Athletics

Michelle Russell, CanoeKayak

The RICOH Male Individual Athlete of the Year

Mark de Jonge, CanoeKayak

Liam Moffatt, Snowboarding

Hugh Smith, Gymnastics

The RICOH Female Team Athlete of the Year

Teni Akindoju, Soccer

Mary Fay, Curling

Blayre Turnbull, Hockey

The RICOH Male Team Athlete of the Year

Nate Darling, Basketball

Ben Russell, CanoeKayak

Jason Sanford, Softball

The RICOH Coach of the Year

Andrew Atherton, Curling

David Kikuchi, Gymnastics

Mark Smith, Softball

The RICOH Official of the Year

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, Soccer

Marie Claude Gregoire, Triathlon

Gorden Woodworth, Curling

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on May 28, 2016 at the World Trade and Convention Centre.  Additional winners to be announced on May 28th include the Sport Nova Scotia Chair Award and Ricoh Sport Makes a Difference Award. Sport Nova Scotia and Ricoh will also recognize the Volunteers of the Year and Sponsors of the Year from each of the Provincial Sport Organizations.

About Ricoh Canada

Ricoh Canada Inc. is a leading provider of document solutions. Ricoh’s fully integrated hardware and software products help businesses share information efficiently and effectively by enabling customers to control the input, management and output of documents.

Ricoh Canada Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ricoh Corporation with its head office located in Toronto, employing over 2,100 employees nation-wide. We are pioneers in the development of computer-networked and digital multifunctional document systems and market leaders in colour and black & white digital imaging systems, facsimile products, printers, scanners, digital duplicators, document management and wide format engineering systems.

With their head office located in Japan, Ricoh employs over 108,000 people worldwide and has realized a steady growth in revenue and profits for almost a decade, generating sales in excess of $21 billion (U.S.) fiscal year 2009. Their history is 74 years old as the leading supplier of office automation equipment.

About Sport Nova Scotia

Sport Nova Scotia is a voice for amateur sport that promotes the benefits of health, personal development and achievement of all participants. Sport Nova Scotia is a non-profit, non-government organization representing over 55 Provincial Sport Organizations and more then 160,000 member Nova Scotians. 

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For more information please contact:

Carolyn Townsend

Director, Communications and Public Relations

Sport Nova Scotia

(902) 425-5450 ext.321

ctownsend@sportnovascotia.ca


2016 Ricoh Sport Awards

Finalists’ biographies

Official of the Year – Finalists

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, Soccer

Marie-Soleil is active in the referee community and gives back whenever she can. In 2015, she had a year to remember as she participated in a medal game at every major event she attended. Despite not being able to win a medal, she strives for excellence in every aspect of officiating the game of soccer. She is one of only four female referees in Canada that has been appointed to the FIFA referee list. Last summer, she refereed in the Nova Scotia Soccer League’s men’s and women’s Premiership finals. In the fall, she worked the AUS gold-medal game and the bronze-medal game at the CIS championship. Moving up to the international level, she officiated at the U17 and U20 CONCACAF events while getting the assignment to do the U17 final. To top it off, she took her whistle to Toronto for the Pan American Games and earned the honour of refereeing in the bronze-medal match.

Marie Claude Gregoire, Triathlon

Marie Claude officiates at many races every year, travelling from small towns in Nova Scotia to international multi-sport games. Two thousand fifteen was a busy year as her assignments included many prestigious events. Here at home, she worked at the Navy triathlon and the Riverport triathlon. Moving up a level, she officiated at the Magog Triathlon, an international event on the Americas Cup circuit which also served as the national championship. Marie-Claude also took her expertise to Edmonton for a World Triathlon Series event and to the Chicago Grand Final for the world championships. Along the way, she also officiated a world paratriathlon event in Detroit. Her top assignment of the summer came in July when she presided over the triathlon events at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Gorden Woodworth, Curling

Gorden has been the chief umpire for the Nova Scotia Curling Association for the past ten years. In this role, he is responsible for recruiting, training and maintaining a cadre of umpires to provide services for provincial events. This past year, Gorden worked as the chief umpire at the men’s and women’s provincial tournament at the Mayflower Club in Halifax. This was the first combined Scotties/Tankard held in Nova Scotia and required all of Gorden’s expertise and experience to make it run smoothly. Because this event served as a qualifier for the nationals, and eventually the world championship, it required him to clearly set the rules and consistently enforce them. His fine work earned him a key role at the 2015 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship. He also served at the Canadian Special Olympics in Corner Brook, a seniors’ event in Digby, and at a Pinty’s Grand Slam event in Truro.

 

Coach of the Year – finalists

Andrew Atherton, Curling

As coach of the Canadian team skipped by Mary Fay at the World Junior Curling Championships in Taarnby, Denmark, Andrew had to regroup his team after an upset loss in the playoffs. They had gone 9-0 in round-robin play, but lost to Team USA in the playoff game. Given a chance to redeem themselves, they rebounded with a 9-4 win over Hungary in the semifinal. That set up a rematch against the Americans in the final and Atherton was able to prepare his athletes to play their best, and they did as they claimed gold with a 7-4 victory. Andrew is the first coach from Nova Scotia to lead a junior women’s team to the top of the podium. He did so despite the challenge presented by a line-up change at the start of the season; but with solid planning, the team had great training sessions and was able to peak for key competitions.

David Kikuchi, Gymnastics

David coached Nova Scotia’s top two gymnasts last year, including Ellie Black who won five medals at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. Kikuchi also guided Ellie to Canadian records at the world championships and the American Cup. Ellie finished fourth in the all-around in qualifying, on her way to placing seventh in the finals at worlds while setting a new mark with a third-place finish in the all-around at the American Cup. Hugh Smith, another of the four national team members that Kikuchi coaches, landed the top mark in the all-around at the final Olympic qualifier, earning one spot for the Canadian men in Rio. As head coach at Halifax Alta Gymnastics Club, David also coaches nine other national and international level gymnasts. Athletes he coached won nine medals at Elite Canada in February and fifteen medals at the national championships in May of 2015. Last year, David was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame alongside his father, Tak.

Mark Smith, Softball

Last summer at the Pan American Games, Mark achieved a double-gold performance unlike any other softball coach before him. As coach of the men’s and women’s national teams, Mark guided both squads to Pan Am gold in Toronto. The feat was made even sweeter by an upset of the heavily favoured U.S. team in the women’s final – which snapped the Americans string of seven straight Pan Am titles. A veteran with 19 years on the bench, Mark won his 280th game to become the winningest and longest-serving coach in national team history. His pedigree extends to his years as a player. Mark is a three-time world champion and was selected to the all-world team a record five times. He has been inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Softball Hall of Fame and the American Softball Hall of Fame (ISC). He is a great motivational speaker and a mentor to many young coaches from the grassroots to the elite levels.

 

Team of the Year – finalists

Basketball Nova Scotia U17 Boys Provincial Team

When Nova Scotia faced powerhouse Ontario in the first game of the 2015 U17 national boys basketball championship, they didn’t seem ready and took their lumps in a 98-76 loss. Nova Scotia regrouped though and won its four remaining round-robin games to put the teams on a collision course to meet again in the final. After four exciting quarters, the game went to overtime with Nova Scotia battling to the end before pulling off a 116-109 win. Athlete-of-the-year nominee Nate Darling led the way with 50 points, first-team all-star Alex Carson had 32 points, and the team also had two more all-stars — Chase Tynes and Rowan Power. Earlier in the season, the team prepared for nationals by winning the first East Coast Games championship last June in Saint John, New Brunswick. The squad also came away with a hard-fought bronze at the Bluenose Classic Open Division, which is open to current and former AUS athletes.

Women’s K2 500m / 200m 2015 World Championships

The team of Una Lounder and Genevieve Orton went to the world championships in Milan hoping to qualify a boat for the Olympics this summer in Rio. The 500-metre K2 was the Olympic qualification race, so the pair was focused on that race. In a hotly contested event with 32 crews including Hungary, Russia, Germany and other traditional race leaders, Canada easily moved from the heats into a semifinal. In that race, the crew had their best performance of the season and, despite a light headwind, eclipsed their performance indicator time by two seconds. Their best was just short of the top 6 finish needed for an automatic qualification for the Rio Olympics. The pair refocused for the 200-metre and made the A final in which they paddled to an eighth-place finish to earn the best result for a Canadian women’s kayak crew at the worlds.

Team Canada/Fay

This curling team had about as good a year as you can imagine. They kicked things off by winning their third straight provincial junior title and earned a berth at the Canadian junior championship in late January. The rink rolled to a 9-1 record in round-robin play – the best at the event – to advance directly to the final. In that game, they beat the B.C. rink 9-5 to claim gold. After skip Mary Fay and second Karlee Burgess primed their game at the World Youth Olympics, they reunited with Kristin Clarke and Janique LeBlanc and got set to take on the world. The team went 9-0 in round-robin play but suffered a disappointing playoff loss to the U.S. Forced to regroup and play in the semifinal, they earned a rematch with the Americans in the final and won another gold. Fay won the sportsmanship award at the event, which along with their gold medal, was a first at this event for Nova Scotia.

Female Team Athlete of the Year – Finalists

Teni Akindoju, Soccer

At the young age of 14, Teni burst like a supernova onto the Canadian under-17 national team. Even though she is playing against athletes who are much older, she participated in five events. She helped Canada win a CONCACAF bronze medal and earn a trip to the 2016 U17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan. In all, Teni dressed for seven international games, playing in four, and scored a hat trick against Grenada to help Canada advance to the semifinal at the CONCACAF championships. Teni has kept herself very busy. In addition to playing for her club team (Halifax Dunbrack), the provincial team, and the regional Excel team, she’s also a key member of the U15 national team and is preparing for the CONCACAF U15 championship tournament this summer.

Mary Fay, Curling

After leading her Chester rink to its third straight junior provincial championship, Mary set out to continue her conquest at other levels. She led her team through a tough field at the Canadian championship where it beat B.C. in the final to claim gold. She continued to win at the Youth Olympics in Norway where she went undefeated in her first major international event and added another gold medal to her collection. Mary set out to complete the golden hat trick at the world junior championships in Denmark. There, she went undefeated in round-robin play before suffering a setback against the U.S. in the playoffs. Undaunted, she led her team to a semifinal win and eventually revenge over the Americans in the final to claim Nova Scotia’s first junior world title. Mary also won the sportsmanship award – the first time a Nova Scotian had won that honour at the world championship.

Blayre Turnbull, Hockey

Blayre is just the second Nova Scotian to be named to the Canadian national women’s team and made her debut at the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship in March. Blayre scored a goal and added two assists in five games as Canada won a silver medal. She earned her spot on the roster after a stellar performance last November at the 4 Nations Cup. She scored twice for Canada in a 3-1 win over Sweden in a pre-tournament exhibition game and was a steady two-way presence for Canada at the event, in which Canada also won a silver medal. The 23-year-old Stellarton native posted seven goals and nine assists in 22 Canadian Women’s Hockey League regular-season games this year for the Calgary Inferno. She added three goals and two assists in three playoff games and helped lead the Inferno to the Clarkson Cup championship game. In that game, Blayre scored twice — including the game-winning goal — as Calgary claimed its first Clarkson Cup.

Male Team Athlete of the Year – Finalists

Nate Darling, Basketball

Nate put on one of the greatest displays of basketball shooting prowess this province has seen – and he did it in the clutch. Nate scored 50 points in the final of the Canadian championship as he led Nova Scotia’s under-17 boys team to its first gold medal at the event. Nova Scotia’s win broke a nearly 30-year drought for basketball in the province. The last time a Nova Scotia team clinched a national championship was 1987. Nate’s 50-point game, and his play earlier in the tournament, earned him MVP honours. Nova Scotia had gone 4-1 in the tournament with its only loss in the opener to Ontario, which also finished with four wins and one loss. Nate saved his best for when it counted as Nova Scotia earned a rematch with Ontario in the final and prevailed with a 116-109 overtime victory in a roof-raising game at the Homburg Centre at Saint Mary’s University.

Ben Russell, CanoeKayak

Ben is a member of the RBC Olympians, and while he is a world-class C2 paddler, he also ranks highly in men’s singles with excellent finishes nationally in solo events. Last year, at national team trials, he finished second in the C1, 1,000-metre behind 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Mark Oldershaw. When Ben teamed with long-time partner Gabriel Beauchesne-Sevigny in the C2, 1,000-metre, the duo came in first place as they beat the next-best crew by 3.15 seconds. They also won Pan Am gold together and hoped to qualify Canada for the Olympics at the world championships in Moscow. They faced much tougher competition though, and finished 9th, just missing a spot. Despite the disappointment, Ben returned home and traded in his Canada jersey for his Banook Canoe Club racing singlet and brought home a silver medal from the national club championships in Ottawa.

Jason Sanford, Softball

Jason’s list of accomplishments in the summer of 2015 will surely go into the history books as one of the most impressive ever put up by a softball player. Jason won four gold medals and a silver at the world’s most prestigious tournaments. Years of practice and honing his skills gave him the opportunity to play for the national team at the Pan American Games and in the world championships – both of which Canada won. Jason’s defensive prowess as a catcher makes him a sought-after commodity by some of the world’s best pitchers. He suited up for the Hill United Chiefs in the Amateur Softball Association major men’s tournament and the International Softball Congress world championship and added to his collection with two more gold medals. He capped off his summer by helping the East Hants Mastodons win silver at the Canadian senior men’s championship.

Female Individual Athlete of the Year – Finalists

Ellie Black, Gymnastics

Ellie has been Nova Scotia’s top female individual athlete for the last three years and her performance just keeps getting better. Last year, she won five medals at the Pan American Games, including a gold in the all-around. Ellie captured the hearts of Canadians watching on TV and became the country’s sweetheart as she also won gold in the beam and floor exercise, a silver for the team’s second-place finish, and a bronze on the vault. Earlier in the spring, Ellie won her third straight Canadian championship. Other highlights of her year include setting Canadian records at the American Cup, where she finished third in the all-around, and the world championships, where she placed sixth in the all-around. That result helped Canada qualify a full team for the Rio Olympics, where she hopes to continue her upward trajectory.

 

Pam LeJean, Athletics

In 2015 Pam started her season by setting Canadian records in the discus and javelin throw. After that, she went on to win at the IPC Grand Prix event in Switzerland. In August, Pam won the gold medal in shot put at the Para Pan Am games in Toronto and a bronze medal in the javelin. At the IPC World Championships in Qatar, she competed against all the top athletes in the world — the ones that she’ll face this summer in Rio. In Qatar, Pam won the silver medal in the shot put and her throw was just three centimetres short of the distance posted by the gold-medal winner.

Michelle Russell, CanoeKayak

Michelle proved that an unwavering dedication to doing your best can pay off – even though it might not seem worth it at the time. At the 2015 world championships, Michelle competed in the K1, 500-metre, but missed the A final by just a fraction. This meant that she had missed one of the eight automatic berths for the Rio Olympics, but there was still a chance to qualify a boat for Canada if other entrants qualified in more than one event. In the B final, she had a great race and, a week later, learned that she’d earned a quota spot for Canada. At the Pan Am Games earlier in the summer, Michelle won as a member of the K4 500m, taking Canada’s first gold of the games. Racing in the 500-metre and 200-metre K1, she won two silver medals. To cap off a great summer, she represented Cheema at the national club championships where she won five more medals.

Male Individual Athlete of the Year

Mark de Jonge, CanoeKayak

Going into last year’s world championship, Mark faced the difficult task of defending his gold medal. Like he does every season, the preparation for that event began in the previous winter. It’s that kind of preparation that gives him such a solid foundation for success – one that has helped him steadily progress since winning a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. It had been more than a decade since a paddler defended a world championship, though, and only three have ever done it in his event. In the final of the K1, 200-metre, he jumped out to a quick start and held off a tough field of challengers to win by 19 one-hundredths of a second. He added two golds with the K4 crew at the world cup races, and his K1 win qualified Canada for a spot in Rio this summer. Mark will be in that boat looking for his first Olympic gold.

Liam Moffatt, Snowboarding

Liam had a breakout year as he achieved several personal and Nova Scotia bests. He earned a spot on the national snowboardcross development team to become the first Nova Scotian to accomplish that feat. After a rigorous off-season training program, Liam headed to Europe and finished 12th in a junior event that included more than 80 riders from 22 countries. From there, his season just got busier as he competed in 18 events in Europe and across North America. He put a feather in his cap by being the first Nova Scotia snowboardcross athlete to compete in World Cup events and just missed making the finals by a hundredth of a second. Near the end of his long season, Liam pushed harder than ever and finished fifth in the last North American Cup event that he could attend. He added a third-place finish (another Nova Scotian best) at the U19 nationals.

Hugh Smith, Gymnastics

Even though he’s been a top gymnast for years, Hugh continued to surprise many in the gymnastics world. That’s because it’s rare for a gymnast over the age of 30 to compete at such a high level. An extended break earlier in his career has made him a lower-mileage gymnast and he’s been able to stave off injuries. The 32-year-old always finds a way to up his game, and put forth the maximum effort propelling him to a bronze in the all-around at the national championships. He also helped the Canadian mens’ team finish fourth at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, where he placed 7th in all-around as the top Canadian. At an Elite Canada event earlier this year, he placed fourth in the all-around and had first-place finishes in floor and vault to go with a second-place finish on the rings. Most recently at an Olympic qualifier, Hugh had the best all-around finish for the Canadian men, and for this reason, Canada will be able to send one man to Rio.

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