Penny Oleksiak wins Lou Marsh Trophy

Breakout Olympic swimming star is named Canada's top athlete of the year
Penny Oleksiak Penny Oleksiak is already the most successful Canadian Olympian at a single Summer Games. She has become a hero to tens of thousands of kids across the country. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)


When you look back on Canadian sports in 2016, can you pick the best athlete of the year?

Tennis star Milos Raonic reaching the final of Wimbledon? Golfer Brooke Henderson winning the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at only age 18? How about the always-incredible Sidney Crosby being captain of both the Stanley Cup and the World Cup of Hockey-winning teams?

And we're not even getting to the unbelievable Olympic year had by gold medal high jumper Derek Drouin, triple-medallist sprinter Andre de Grasse, flag-bearing and gold-winning trampolinist Rosie MacLennan... holy moly!

Where do you even start to pick the best? For the jurors of the Lou Marsh Award for the country's top athlete of the year, the choice was pretty clear.

It's teen swimming sensation Penny Oleksiak!

One magic week in Rio

Even in such a crowded field of amazing competitors, the 16-year old from Toronto really stood out.

On Day One, Oleksiak opened the Rio Olympics by anchoring Canada's women 4x100m freestyle relay team to a bronze medal (the country's first in 40 years).

The next night, she won silver in the 100m butterfly final.

Then, three nights later, she won bronze again in another relay, the 4x200m freestyle.

By this time, the whole country was already calling her a hero! But on Day Six, she really blew every Canadian away. She set an Olympic record and won gold in the 100m freestyle (sharing the medal in a tie with American Simone Manuel). Incredible!

Along the way, Oleksiak broke numerous national and world junior records in the various heats (or races) that she swam in Rio. She won more medals at a single Summer Olympics than any Canadian in history.

And even more amazing? She did all of this at the age of 16! She's still in high school.

In other words, she's already the best swimmer in Canada's history... and she's only just getting started. By the 2020 Olympics, who knows? She could rival American Katie Ledecky as one of the very best swimmers on the planet. It'll be worth the wait to find out.

For now though, there is no doubt about it: Penny Oleksiak is Canada's top athlete of the year.

Congrats, Penny! We're super proud of you!


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