By Charlie Pinkerton
During the night of the Ottawa Sports Awards, Elly Woods sat nervously as she routinely checked her phone. It wasn’t in case word may have gotten out about the fate of the Male Athlete of the Year Award – since her husband, Mike Woods, had been announced as the winner two weeks prior – but because he was mid-race, on the other side of the globe.
But to Elly’s relief, the couple became double winners within minutes, as she accepted her husband’s award almost at the same time as Mike clinched 1st place in the second stage of the Herald Sun Tour. Mike finished in 3rd place at the end of the race’s five stages, to continue his steep ascension in the cycling world.
That rise was recognized by the Sports Awards with one of the event’s top honour for an individual athlete, which he won for the first time.
“It’s a big honour to receive this award,” Woods told the Ottawa Sportspage in an email. “I am a proud Ottawa boy and I feel great pride in being able to say that I am the city’s male athlete of the year.”
The 32-year-old cyclist’s year was topped by a bronze medal performance at the 2018 World Road Cycling Championship. It was the first podium finish by a Canadian at the event since 1984. Other 2018 highlights for Woods include winning the 17th stage at the Vuelta a Espana and finishing 2nd overall in Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia, which he finished inside the top 20 overall. He was also named the Canadian Male Cyclist of the Year for 2018.
“This award, like all that I have accomplished in cycling, is just as much a product of Elly’s work as it is mine,” Woods added. “Elly is the person who convinced me to quit my job and pursue cycling. She is the one who paid our bills when I first started, and she has been with me, and supported me, throughout my entire career. Therefore, I couldn’t think of a better person to accept the award.”
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Isabelle Weidemann won the award as Ottawa’s top athlete. She debuted at the Olympics last year and finished 2018 on a hot streak that included winning her first ISU World Cup gold medal.
MALE TEAM OF THE YEAR
Canada Topflight Academy was recognized as Ottawa’s best men’s team in 2018. They won their second consecutive national prep school title.
FEMALE TEAM OF THE YEAR
The Carleton Ravens women’s basketball team was celebrated as the city’s top female team thanks to an undefeated season, and victories in the OUA championship and national championship.
MALE COACH OF THE YEAR
University of Ottawa women’s soccer coach Steve Johnson was awarded the prize as Ottawa’s top male coach. He coached the Gee-Gees to a 20-1-1 record and a national title, which they won on home turf.
FEMALE COACH OF THE YEAR
Cassandra Smith won the top honour for female coaches thanks to exceptional finishes by her athletes in regional events in Ontario and Quebec that included 13 podium finishes and six other top five finishes.
The Ottawa Sports Awards also produced tribute videos for each of the event’s lifetime award winners. Here they are:
—with files from Dan Plouffe