Syl Apps Award Recipients (22)
Bianca Andreescu’s astronomical rise up the ranks of tennis began with her first WTA tournament victory at the 2019 Indian Wells Masters.
Despite entering the year having not played a WTA match in over 14 months, Andreescu had a breakthrough season that took her from well outside the top 100 into the upper echelon of women's tennis.
Andreescu, 19, from Mississauga, ON began playing tennis in Pitești at the age of seven while living in Romania.
Andreescu has built an impressive resume with her masterful performances in 2019, as the reigning champion at the US Open and the Canadian Open, having defeated Serena Williams to win both titles. She is the first Canadian tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title, and the first to win the Canadian Open in 50 years. Keeping with the theme of being ‘first’, Andreescu is also the first teenager to win a Grand Slam singles title since Maria Sharapova in 2006.
Andreescu employs a wide variety of shots into her style of play that is set apart by the level of power that she incorporates into her game.
At year's end, Andreescu's results led to her being awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy, given annually by a panel of sportswriters to the person deemed Canada's top athlete. She was the first tennis player to receive the trophy. She also received the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award, as The Canadian Press' choice for the country's top female athlete.
Coming off an extraordinary 2019 full of accolades, Andreescu will be adding the 2020 Syl Apps Ontario Athlete of the Year award to her list of accomplishments.
The Canadian ice dancing dynamic duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir made 2018 a year to remember for their fans and admirers.
Partners for two decades, Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., had been melting hearts since they claimed gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games. They both decided to step away from the sport for two seasons after their silver in Sochi. They returned with a single-minded focus on gold in South Korea.
The duo were among the Pyeongchang Olympics Games’ most popular athletes. Fans swooned to their chemistry and lapped up their connection on and off the ice.
A world record total score led to a third gold medal, making the Canadian ice dance darlings the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history. Virtue and Moir perfectly executed a golden plan they’d announced to mixed reviews when they’d returned to the sport 18 months earlier.
Virtue and Moir held a slim lead over Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France after the short dance despite the fact Papadakis skated most of the program with the clasp of her dress broken.
On the second night, when Papadakis and Cizeron recorded a world record in the free dance, Virtue and Moir were waiting in the wings with fingers in ears. They purposely didn’t look at any television monitors.
Then Virtue, in a gauzy backless red dress, and Moir, channelling his inner Ewan McGregor, brought the crowd to its feet with their breathtaking performance to music from “Moulin Rouge,” a movie they’d loved ever since they saw it together as kids.
Flying under the radar seems to be a way of life for Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto.
For the Toronto native, Votto’s greatness, though, is a thing appreciated more by baseball observers than by casual fans. This is in part because he’s not a wall-banging masher at the plate and in part because he plays in Cincinnati, a small market, for a Reds team that has recently had some lean years.
In 2017, a season in which he lost the National League’s MVP race to Giancarlo Stanton in the closest vote for that award since 1979, Votto made headlines for finishing number one in a touching moment on the field.
During an August, 2017 game, Votto gave the jersey off his back to a young boy battling cancer.
Walter "Superbubz" Herbert died in early October, 2017 after a two-year battle with cancer. His story went viral earlier as the 6-year-old formed an unlikely friendship with the baseball star.
Votto hit a solo home run during the game against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park, and Superbubz was lucky enough to be sitting in the front row near Cincinnati’s dugout.
Votto had met the boy a week earlier when he was at Great American Ball Park courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He walked over to Superbubz after the homer and gave him the bat he used and his jersey.
Superbubz immediately put on the jersey and one of the biggest smiles you’ll ever see.
Votto’s resume to date is an impressive one. He is a five-time MLB All-Star , a seven-time Tip O'Neill Award winner and two-time Lou Marsh Trophy winner as Canada's athlete of the year. In 2010, he won the National League (NL) MVP Award and the NL Hank Aaron Award .
Olympic record holder, four-time Olympic and World Medalist, Canada150 and WE Canada Ambassador.
Born on June 13, 2000, in Toronto, Ontario, swimmer Penny Oleksiak is Canada’s youngest Olympic gold medallist ever. At just 16 years of age she also holds the Canadian record for winning the most Olympic medals at a single summer Games.
Penny qualified for her first senior national team, at age 15, at the 2016 Canadian Olympic & Para-Swimming Trials. Four months later, after turning 16, she competed at her first senior event – the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. It was here that she became a four-time medalist earning one gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the 100m freestyle, 100m fly, 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays. Penny had the honour of being selected as Team Canada’s flag bearer at the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Less than four months later, she competed at the 13th FINA World Swimming Championships in Windsor, Ontario, where she added an additional four medals to her collection in the 100m freestyle, 4x50m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m individual medal relay.
By the end of 2016, Penny had broken an Olympic Record, 12 Canadian Senior records and 5 World Junior records. Most notably, she was awarded the 2016 Lou Marsh Award which is presented to Canada’s top athlete of the year. She also won Swimming Canada’s Female Swimmer of the Year, Swimming World’s Newcomer of the Year, CP Female Athlete of the Year, the 2016 Bobbie Rosenfeld Female Athlete of the Year, Postmedia’s 2016 Female Athlete, CBC Sports Athlete of the Year, the 2016 Canada Commonwealth Cup and was a member of the 2016 Canadian Press team of the year.
In addition to swimming, Penny is a grade 11 student at TDSB’s Monarch Park Collegiate in Toronto. She advocates for awareness on the importance of inclusion as well as mental and physical health for kids in Canada. Penny learned how to swim at age 9 in a neighbour’s backyard pool.
- Instagram: @typicalpen
- Twitter: @OleksiakPenny
- Hobbies: Reading, volleyball, tubing, biking, playing with her dog
- Siblings: Hayley- NCAA Division I rower; Jamie- NHL hockey player; Jake – played NCAA hockey; Claire – teacher.
- Good luck charm: Grey blankie
- Fun Fact: Collects Starbucks mugs for her mom and Hawaiian shirts for her dad when travelling
- Fun Fact: Recently got a kitten and named it Rio
Brad Sinopoli, wide receiver for the Ottawa Redblacks in the Canadian Football League, was born on April 14th, 1988 in Peterborough, Ontario. Brad grew up playing football and hockey at the highest level, an early sign of his elite athleticism. Along with being touted as one of the best collegiate quarterbacks in Canada, he also played AAA hockey for the Peterborough Minor Petes.
With the University of Ottawa Gee Gee’s, his junior and senior years were most memorable statistically. In his senior year, Brad threw for 2756 yards and 22 touchdowns for an overall passing rating of 97.5. With that incredible performance in 2010, he earned the Hec Crighton Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding Canadian football player in CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport).
In 2011, Brad was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in the fourth round (29th overall) in the CFL Canadian Draft where he would go on and play for 4 seasons as quarterback and later, wide receiver. The change in position was not in vain, as he would record 20 catches for 197 yards along with two receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown; the first being a 26 yard run TD on July 18th, 2014 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He would go on to sign with the Ottawa Redblacks for the 2015 season; the best one to date. Brad rightfully earned the award of 2015 CFL’s outstanding Canadian with 86 receptions totaling 1,035 receiving yards and three touchdowns. 2015 was also his third appearance at the Grey Cup. Brad’s premier athleticism, hard work, and success have earned him the 2015 Syl Apps Ontario Athlete of the Year Award. He is the first CFL player to earn this prestigious award since Damon Allen of the Argonauts in 2005.
- Brad in Calgary, 2014-11-23 (bio & background)
- CFL site (player profile)
- Toronto Sun, 2015-11-27 (Brad: almost-next-greatest)
- Peterborough Examiner, 2016-02-02 (announces Brad's nomination for OSHOF AOTY)
In 2014, at the age of 17, Brooke Henderson of Smith Falls was already on top of the world as the number one ranked amateur woman in the world. An impressive year with two top 10 finishes. One at the LPGA US Open and another on the Canadian Woman’s Tour. In December of 2014, Brooke announced that she was turning pro. She started her pro career with promising results, winning the Suncoast Series Tour event in Winter Garden Florida in her first pro tournament.
In 2013, Thornhill's son Milos Raonic rode his rocket serve to become the ATP's 10th ranked men's singles player. No Canadian man ever ranked higher. Raonic ranked 11th at season's end.
Two victories supported Raonic's rise. He won the Pacific Coast Championships in February, defeating Tommy Haas in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. In September, Raonic beat Tomas Berdych 7-6(4), 6-3 at the Thailand Open. Both victories were on hard courts. Raonic also reached the finals at both the Canadian Open, falling to Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-2, and at the Japan Open, where he lost to Juan Martin del Potro 7-6(5), 7-5.
2013 also saw Raonic lead an unseeded Canadian team into the Davis Cup World Group semi-finals. Canada's tournament began in Vancouver, where Canada beat the top-ranked team from Spain before a rowdy, supportive crowd. Canada eventually lost to 4th-seeded Serbia, anchored by world #1 Novak Djokovic, 3-2 on a slow clay court in Belgrade. This was only the 6th time Canada reached the World Group, and represents the nation's furthest advance in Davis Cup play. A century earlier, in 1913, Canadians reached the semifinal when the tournament was known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge.
Clemens signed a four-year, $40 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays after the 1996 season and won the Cy Young Award in both his seasons with the Blue Jays, also winning the pitching Triple Crown twice. Some consider Clemens' tenure with the Blue Jays as his best individual seasons of his career, despite the lackluster records the Blue Jays had as a team.
In 1999, Weir won his first PGA Tour title at the 1999 Air Canada Championship after rounds of 68-70-64-64, which produced a two-stroke victory. The key to victory was an eagle-2 from 147 yards on No. 14 during final round. First Canadian to win on native soil since Pat Fletcher won the 1954 Canadian Open. First Canadian to win on Tour since Richard Zokol won the 1992 Greater Milwaukee Open.