People's Pick: Canada's athlete of the year | Sports | CBC Sports

People's Pick: Canada's athlete of the year

Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013 | 11:11 AM

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CBC Sports Weekend host Scott Russell starts the conversation with his list of 10 candidates for Canadian athlete of the year. (CBC Sports) CBC Sports Weekend host Scott Russell starts the conversation with his list of 10 candidates for Canadian athlete of the year. (CBC Sports)

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It's that time again, when Canadian fans have their say on who and what has impressed them most on the fields of play over the last calendar year.

It is that time again, when Canadian sports fans have their say on who and what has impressed them most on the field of play over the last calendar year.

There's no doubt that picking the best of the best is fun to do and sparks great debate in hallways, elevators and pubs. No one knows better than the patrons of sport who can claim to be the greatest of our country's athletes.

But here's the rub.

There are, again, a legion of worthy candidates this year. In fact, there are so many that not all of them could make it to the Top 10 list we offered here to spark the discussion. It's too bad because by leaving some athletes on the sidelines we arbitrarily fail to cast enough light on their remarkable accomplishments.

These kinds of lists also are not designed to be gender equal and, therefore, in this year's lineup, only one woman is offered up for your consideration. She is Kaillie Humphries, the world bobsleigh champion who has had another dominant year on the way to Sochi 2014.  

In addition, the list has to accommodate a variety of tastes with regard to sport. Some of our finalists are Olympians, others are professionals and still others play what are loosely termed amateur sports. A few are players on a team; most are individuals. The one thing they all share in common is they can claim to be among the very best at what they do internationally.
Further rationale for the formation of the ballot goes like this:

These athletes can qualify by being at the top of their game. That's why figure skater Patrick Chan is on the list again. He's a reigning world champion, as is Humphries, not to mention short track speed skater Charles Hamelin.

Some of the choices are Canadian sports trailblazers. In this regard, Jon Cornish, the magnificent running back of the Calgary Stampeders, qualifies. For the second year in a row, the non-import led the CFL in rushing, breaking his own record for a Canadian by more than 300 yards.

A couple of our candidates merit consideration because they have excellin a deep talent pool. That's why tennis player Milos Raonic and golfer Graham DeLaet get the nod. In each of these two sports, the competitive balance is global in nature. It's extremely difficult to get to the top against so many international rivals. Both Raonic and DeLaet are nearly there.

Another has made the list because of all-around athleticism. Decathlete Damian Warner can run, jump and throw with the best on the planet in a foundation sport. By ascending the podium at the world athletics championships in Moscow this past summer, Warner stakes a claim to the ancient notion that decathlon produces the "world's greatest athlete."

The ballot must also accommodate acknowledged superstars. That means the greatest of the year's hockey performers should be given a look because this winter nation values the connection it has with the national game. To that end, Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins more than fit the bill.

Finally, there is the intangible quality of impact that needs to be discussed. While all of the above have made significant impressions over the course of the year, arguably no one has had made as much of an impact as young basketball sensation Andrew Wiggins. 

This Sports Illustrated cover bears me out on this and, while he is as yet a superstar in the making, Wiggins has already dominated headlines with regard to the future of one of the world's most practised sports.

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We listed the Top 10 below in alphabetical order and included a few noteworthy credentials, and asked you to vote.

Voting is now closed. See below for the final results.

These are all extraordinary athletes and, once again, we understand that there may be others. Please feel free to suggest alternate choices you feel strongly about in the comments section as we continue the conversation.

Just a reminder, this is the third annual People's Pick. Our previous winners were equestrian rider Eric Lamaze and his horse Hickstead (2011) and soccer star Christine Sinclair (2012).

The Top 10
Patrick Chan, Figure skating
Patrick Chan

  • Won 3rd consecutive world championship
  • Set world record for total score
  • Won Skate Canada & Grand Prix in France

Jon Cornish, Football
Jon Cornish
  • Led CFL in rushing yards for 2nd consecutive year
  • Broke own Canadian rushing record by 300+ yards
  • Chosen Most Outstanding Player & top Canadian

Sidney Crosby, Hockey
Sidney Crosby
  • Won Ted Lindsay Award for top NHLer as chosen by players
  • Totalled 56 points in 36 games in lockout-shortened season
  • Ranks among top-three scorers in current NHL season
Graham DeLaet, Golf
  • Made International team for Presidents Cup
  • Climbed to 32nd in world rankings
  • Two top-three PGA finishes

Charles Hamelin, Speed Skating
  • Won four medals (1 gold) at world championships
  • Eight gold medals in current World Cup season

Kaillie Humphries, Bobsleigh
  • Won World Cup overall title
  • Won second consecutive world championship
  • Reached 12 consecutive World Cup podiums

Milos Raonic, Tennis
  • Achieved Top 10 world ranking (highest ever by Canadian male)
  • Won ATP events in Thailand & San Jose
  • Davis Cup semifinalist

Steven Stamkos, Hockey
  • 57 points in 2013 shortened season, including 29 goals
  • Led NHL in scoring in current season at time of injury

Damian Warner, Athletics
  • Won Hypo Meeting decathlon (first Canadian since Michael Smith)
  • Bronze medal in decathlon at world championships

Andrew Wiggins, Basketball
  • Top NCAA basketball recruit (University of Kansas)
  • U.S. high school player of year
  • Named Mr. Basketball USA
  • McDonald's All-America

Voting Results

Here's who you think deserves to be Canada's athlete of the year:

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