Collecting his athlete of the year award in Yellowknife on Saturday, Chris Williams gave away the secret of his success.
“I outlived the competition,” the swimmer told the Explorer Hotel audience.
Competing as an 82-year-old, Williams won four events in his age category at last year’s Canada 55-plus Games – having been opposed in none of them.
He was recognized by the Sport North Federation as its senior male athlete of the year on Saturday, alongside 11 other award winners. Senior is defined by Sport North as an athlete aged 21 or over.
Dedicating his award to his team-mates at the 55-plus Games, Williams said seniors in sport are rarely acknowledged.
“We don’t receive such recognition. Maybe they didn’t win medals, but they were all worthy representatives of the NWT and they have their share in this award,” he said.
Fifty NWT competitors took part in the Games, winning a total of 18 gold medals.
Though Williams found nobody to compete against in Canada, he has also produced strong results at larger, significantly more competitive meets in the United States.
Speaking after receiving his award, Williams took the opportunity to make one further comment – admonishing Sport North and territorial authorities for the 2018 decision to rebrand Team NWT as Team NT at national sports events.
“I like to think I am an athlete, and not a postal designation,” Williams wisecracked, referring to Canada Post’s use of NT to denote the Northwest Territories.
“Team NWT is how we are known and respected throughout the country and even overseas. Put what you like on my mail, but I would plead that we go back to wearing across our shoulders: Team NWT,” he said.
“As far as I’m concerned, the W in there means: winner.”
Williams took one of six athlete-of-the-year awards on Saturday, spread across genders and age groups.
Also recognized for their athletic achievements were:
- Youth Female Athlete of the Year: Emma Leathem, gymnastics
- Youth Male Athlete of the Year: Cole Clinton, tennis
- Junior Female Athlete of the Year: Ella Kokelj, skiing
- Junior Male Athlete of the Year: Wilson Elliot, judo
- Senior Female Athlete of the Year: Clair Littlefair, skiing
On a big night for Inuvik volleyball, coaches Twyla Amos and Stacey Christie picked up awards as coach and community contributor of the year respectively.
Robert Sholto Douglas was named official of the year for his tireless work to support all aspects of dog mushing in the NWT, while Slavica Jovic received a contributor to sport award for her work on behalf of tennis.
Petersen and Auger received the corporate contributor award for its support of the KidSport initiative, and the territory’s female Canada Games hockey players were named team of the year.
Three-time Olympic hockey champion Jennifer Botterill, delivering the night’s feature speech, described her sporting journey and her father’s influence on her career, telling young NWT athletes “every moment matters.”