Originally Posted: October 24, 2021
Maggie Mac Neil’s year just got even more special.
The London, Ont., swimmer was named Best Female Athlete of Tokyo 2020 on Sunday by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Greece.
Mac Neil claimed Canada’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Games by capturing the women’s 100-metre butterfly in 55.59 seconds, lowering her own national record by nearly a quarter of a second.
The 21-year-old went on to add two more medals, winning silver with the 4x100m freestyle relay team and bronze with the 4x100m medley relay team — all in her first Olympic Games.
“It is such a great honour to receive this award,” said Mac Neil in a press release. “There are so many amazing athletes who competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. With all we have been through the last year and a half, this makes it even more special.”
Team Canada’s Tokyo 2020 chef de mission and three-time Olympic gold medallist Marnie McBean commended Mac Neil for overcoming training challenges and jumpstarting the rest of Canada’s swimming success in Tokyo.
“When Maggie won her gold medal on Day 3 of the Games, it blew the lid off of our team’s simmering pot,” said McBean.
“To perform at that level having spent a significant amount of time training in her backyard pool in London, Ontario, confirmed to the rest of the team that unique, less than ideal, training programs could result in world class results.
“Her three-medal performance was a catalyst for Team Canada — in and out of the water — to believe in great things,” added McBean.
Marathon gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya won Best Male Athlete after defending his title at the Tokyo Olympics.
Other awards included Best Female Team, given to the New Zealand rugby sevens squad, and Best Male Team, given to the Japanese baseball team that beat the U.S. for gold.
The ANOC is an umbrella organization that represents the collective interests of the world’s 206 National Olympic Committees. First presented in 2014, the ANOC Awards recognize outstanding athletic achievements from the most recent Olympics.
Source: CBC Sports