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A columnist and two reporters at the Free Press have received nominations for the 2013 National Newspaper Awards.
Gordon Sinclair Jr. has been nominated in the short feature category for his profile of 83-year-old Alexander "Sandy" Turnbull, who died in December after spending most of his life in care facilities.
"As I told deputy editor Julie Carl, who selected the Free Press entries, it's always special to be nominated," Sinclair said Monday, shortly after hearing the news.
"But this fourth one feels extra-special this late in my career and my life. Monday was an emotional day."
Sinclair's story on Turnbull began with "He was born with the kind of hope most parents have for their children. May our baby live a long life, full of happiness and purpose.
"But Alexander 'Sandy' Turnbull wasn't the kind of child most parents hope for -- even if he turned out to be more than they could have hoped for."
Randy Turner has been nominated for sports writing for his stories about unregulated hockey leagues for elite young players, the future of curling in rural Manitoba and the unhealthy habit of chewing tobacco by hockey players.
"It's always nice to be nominated for an award," Turner said.
"But in my case, these stories required both time and space. I'm glad to work for a newspaper and editors who continue to provide both."
Turner's story on chewing tobacco starts with an interview of a 20-year-old junior hockey player who admits "my tongue goes down to here now," showing how much farther he can burrow down inside his front lip -- about halfway to his chin -- due to gum erosion from tobacco use."
Bill Redekop has been nominated for business writing for a two-part series on the rise and fall of an Internet pharmacy business.
Redekop's story details how three Manitobans turned the province into the Internet drug industry's epicentre, before it all came crashing down. "How did it go so wrong?" he wrote.
"I'm very surprised and excited to be nominated," said Redekop. "Being chosen from so many candidates across the country is a great honour."
The Free Press was tied with the Calgary Herald and National Post with three nominations.
"This is not only wonderful news for Gord, Bill and Randy but also for our readers to know that what they read in their Free Press is among the best of Canadian journalism," said Free Press editor Paul Samyn.
Ian Hitchen, a reporter with Free Press sister newspaper the Brandon Sun, was also nominated under the category of local reporting for his stories about allegations that children in an Old Order Mennonite community had been physically abused, including with a cattle prod.
The Globe and Mail had the most nominations with 14 while the Toronto Star followed with 13 nominations, Montreal's La Presse had nine, and The Canadian Press had four.
There were a total of 69 finalists in 22 categories chosen from 1,206 entries. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Charlottetown, P.E.I., May 30.
It's not the first time any of the Free Press nominees are competing for a NNA, the country's top print journalism award.
Sinclair is one of the most honoured columnists in the country, with two wins for columns in 1988 and 2007, and a third NNA as part of the Free Press team that covered the Flood of the Century in 1997.
Turner won the NNA in 2004 for his feature of the life and times of Brent Sutter and local players on Team Canada on the eve of the World Junior championship in Grand Forks.
Meantime, Free Press photojournalist Joe Bryksa and multimedia editor Melissa Tait have been nominated for the team multimedia category in the annual News Photographers Association of Canada National Pictures of the Year for their feature, Swimming Deaf, about Thomas Osborn, 17, who trained relentlessly for the 2013 Deaflympics.