10th Anniversary Achievement Awards Luncheon Great Success

By Don Goodwin

Sports Media Canada celebrated 10 highly successful years of identifying and honouring outstanding Canadian sports journalists with its annual Achievement Awards Presentation Luncheon on October 19. The setting was the famed Imperial Room of the venerable Royal York Hotel with 300 sports journalists, athletes and former athletes and supporters of sport and sports media in attendance.



NHL Commissioner was the Guest of Honour and his short address struck an upbeat note with those assembled. Gary Bettman’s visit to Toronto expressly for the Achievement Awards luncheon was widely covered by the Toronto and national sports media.

CTV President Rick Brace introduced Gordon Craig, founder of TSN, recipient of a lifetime Achievement Award. Veteran writer and colunist Frank Orr, himself a previous Achievement Award recipient, introduced Jim Kernaghan of the London Free Press the other recipient of an Achievement Award this year.

Canadian Press General Sports Editor Neil Davidson introduced Pierre Lebrun of the Toronto Canadian Press Staff. Lebrun received the Outstanding Sports Writing Award for 2005 from Gary Bettman.

Former Canadian basketball star now coach and broadcaster Leo Rautins, introduced Outstanding Sports Broadcasting Award recipient Rod Black of TSN who received his Award from Stacey Allaster, just completing a highly successful career with Tennis Canada before assuming her new duties as President of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in January.

Graeme Roy of Canadian Press introduced Frank Gunn, also of Canadian Press, recipient of the 2005 Outstanding Sports Photography Award — presented to him by Sports Media Canada president George Gross.

Sports Media Canada Board of Directors member Fred Walker presented Sports Media Canada Honour Roll Scolls to three former stars of Canadian sports journalism posthumously. The Scroll for writer Paul Rimstead was accepted by his wife and friend Eddie Shack. The Scroll for TV sports coverage innovator George Retzlaff was accepted by Ralph Mellanby, a former Achievement Award recipient. The third Scroll was issued in the name of former writer and columnist Red Burnett.

Diana Zlomislic, a member of the Sports Media Canada Board of Directors and chair of the selection committee for the annual Student Award, introduced the recipient of the bursary awarded to an outstanding post-secondary student in sports journalism…..Rowan Anderson of the University of Western Ontario. The bursary cheque was presented to Rowan by Sports Media Canada Vice-President Jane O’Hara who was in charge of the organization of Rowan’s ‘immersion week’ with major sports media entities inToronto which is part of the ‘Award’ to the Student Award recipient.

A highlight of the event was the performance by Argo coach Pinball Clemons who introduced the joint winners of the Magna International Canadian Sports Executive of the Year Award. His lively and positive introduction of David Cynamon and Howie Sokolowski, the Argo owners, was a highly entertaining closing to the Luncheon.

The affair was dedicated to the memory of popular colleague and highly successful sports broadcaster Tom Cheek who died earlier in October. Paul Godfrey, who was head of the BlueJay organization for several years — opened the Luncheon with a moving, low-key salute to the veteran Blue Jay radio broadcaster.

Plans for the 2006 Awards Luncheon are already underway. It will be held in the Royal York Hotel again next October 17, 18 or 19.