Andre De Grasse, the slightly-built sprinter with an infectious smile and blinding speed who won the hearts of Canadians with his performance at the Rio Olympics, is the winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as The Canadian Press male athlete of the year.
De Grasse had a marvellous Games, winning silver in the 200 metres and bronze in both the 100 and the 4×100-metre relay, becoming the first Canadian sprinter to win three medals in a single Olympics.
The three medal performance topped the two each won by Percy Williams in 1928 in Amsterdam and Donovan Bailey in 1996 in Atlanta, though the four medals won by Williams and Bailey were gold.
In the annual CP survey of editors and broadcasters from across the country, De Grasse earned 43 votes, well ahead of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who finished second with 18 votes.
High jumper Derek Drouin, who won gold in Rio, was third (two votes) while Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and tennis player Milos Raonic received one vote apiece.
De Grasse, who grew up in Markham, Ontario and turned 22 in November, recently completed his sociology degree at the University of Southern California, fulfilling a promise he made to his mother, Beverley, a high school sprinter in Trinidad and Tobago.
After celebrating his graduation in Las Vegas with some friends, De Grasse returned to Phoenix to continue training for the professional track season
Last year’s winner of the Conacher Award was Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
Conacher, an all-around athlete known as “The Big Train,” was voted Canada’s athlete of the half-century in 1950.
The winner of the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as female athlete of the year will be announced Tuesday. Rosenfeld won gold in the 4×100-metre relay and a silver in the 100 metres at the 1928 Amsterdam Games.