Brunet named Canada's top athlete for '99
By MIKE RUTSEY -- Toronto Sun
Caroline Brunet didn't expect to win the Lou Marsh Trophy.
A runner-up in the past, Canada's top women's paddler wasn't holding her
breath waiting for a phone call this year either.
When your chosen sport is kayaking, the tendency is to get shoved to the
bottom of the list.
Yesterday, however, that call came through to her training site in Florida
and Brunet, 30, of Lac Beauport, Que., got the news that she had been selected
the Lou Marsh winner as Canada's athlete of the year.
"It's a big surprise, I didn't really expect it," Brunet said. "I'm very
happy and very touched."
Although Brunet is hardly a household name, she is at the top of the list
in her sport.
At the world canoe and kayak championships in Milan, Italy, last August,
Brunet won three gold medals in solo events and a silver in the pairs.
At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, which marked her third Summer Games,
Brunet won the silver medal in the solo sprint. She will be favoured to win
the gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Brunet has dominated her sport during the past three years, winning eight
individual gold medals at the world championships.
Usually, all that plus a buck will get you a cup of coffee this time of the
year when awards are doled out.
This year, though, is different.
"Our sport doesn't have a big tradition in Canada," Brunet said. "It's well
known in Europe, but in Canada it's slowly being introduced. This honour is a
great thing for me personally but (hopefully) it's also very good for the
"My results at the worlds, they were very good for me. I was very pleased.
I don't know why I won (the Lou Marsh) this year as opposed to last year. I've
been around for a while but it's only now I'm getting the results I was hoping
for in the past."
Right now, Brunet said she has no set plans beyond Sydney.
"I really don't know," she said when asked how long she intends to compete.
"All I know now is that I'm getting ready for the Olympics and after the
Olympics I'll make my decision."
The trophy is named after a former sports editor of The Toronto Star, which
announces a winner as decided by a panel of sports editors and reporters on a
committee headed by former CFL commissioner Jake Gaudaur.
The six other Marsh finalists were triathlete Lori Bowden, tennis player
Sebastien Lareau, NHL star Joe Nieuwendyk, rower Emma Robinson, baseball
player Larry Walker and golfer Mike Weir.