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Joining Lyon in capturing Manitoba's highest sports recognition was wheelchair athlete Michelle Stilwell, who now wears the crown of Manitoba's Female Athlete of the Year.
The MSSA also announced at its annual awards dinner the selection of the Jennifer Jones curling team as the Manitoba Team of the Year, and recipient of the Maurice Smith Memorial Trophy.
Lyon had the highest ranking in the Beijing Olympics of any Canadian archer since 1996, finishing 10th in the men's individual recurve competition. He lost his match to eventual bronze medallist Bair Badenov of Russia. Lyon was ranked 47th in the world but upset two top-20 archers to reach the round of 16.
"It feels really, really good," Lyon told Free Press sportswriter Randy Turner, after walking off the Olympic Green Archery Field Aug. 15. "I know the top 12 in the world are pretty much equal anyway. So it feels like I'm one of the best. It feels great.
"I do feel a little disappointed because I was aiming for a medal," he went on. "But there's nothing wrong with what happened."
Stilwell is the first wheelchair athlete since Donna Wruth, in 1974, to win the honour. She claimed two gold medals in wheelchair racing at the Paralympic Games in Beijing. She set a Games record time of 19.97 seconds (narrowly missing her own world record of 19.60) in the 100 metres, then added a 200-metre gold in 36.18, also a record. She was also a finalist for the Athletics Canada outstanding 2008 Para-athlete of the year.
A quadriplegic, Stilwell told Free Press reporter Ashley Prest Sept. 30, that she believes she can be faster than she was in Beijing. "There's always that little bit in you that wants to do better and wants to show the world you can do better.
"Success is about going for it, making the most of key moments in your life," Stilwell went on. "To me, it's about making the most of today and making the most of every day without selling out for tomorrow. We each have to find that balance in our life."
The Jones rink, consisting of Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer, Dawn Askin, fifth player Jennifer Clark-Rouire and coach Janet Arnott, won the Canadian and World Women's Championship, beating China in the final at Vernon, B.C. In the Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Jones won eight straight games after a 3-4 start, topping Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink in the final to advance to the world championship.
The Jones crew was a near-unanimous choice for the award, receiving 40 of 44 first-place votes on final ballots submitted by sports media throughout Manitoba. Stilwell also was a decisive winner with 28 first-place votes.
The male voting was closer. Lyon edged out runner-up Ben Schellenberg of the University of Winnipeg Wesmen volleyball team by only five points.
Female finalists were Canada's top-ranked squash player Alana Miller; soccer goalkeeper Erin McNulty, who posted a 5-0 record with three shutouts for Canada in winning the CONCACAF under-20 championship in Mexico; Jennifer Saunders, who won bronze medals in three divisions in the World Racquetball Championships in Ireland; and Samantha Loewen of the University of Manitoba Bisons, who was CIS volleyball rookie of the year.
In the team category, two other national championship curling teams were finalists, namely the Kaitlyn Lawes Canadian junior women's champions from Pembina Curling Club, and the Canadian Mixed champions of Sean Grassie from Deer Lodge Curling Club. The Winnipeg Thrashers, who had a perfect 40-0 record in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League, but lost in the final of the national Telus Cup; plus the Wesmen men's volleyball team, runners-up in the national CIS championship, also were on the final ballot.
The MSSA also honoured its own. Ed Tait and Jim Bender, sportswriters for the Winnipeg Free Press and Sun respectively, were inducted into the MSSA Manitoba Media Roll of Honour for their outstanding dedication and commitment in the field of sports journalism in the province.