Speed skater Cindy Klassen wins 2006 Lou Marsh Trophy for Canada’s Outstanding Athlete of the Year

Speed skater Cindy Klassen, Canada’s most decorated Olympian, has been awarded the 2006 Lou Marsh Award for Canada’s top athlete today.

“I am thrilled and honoured to win this award,” says Klassen who won five Olympic medals at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. “This is an exciting time to be a Canadian athlete and I am proud to represent Canada. I am really thankful for all of the support from Canadians and the media.”

The Lou Marsh Trophy winner is decided every December by a panel of sports editors and broadcasters and awarded to Canada’s most outstanding athlete by the Toronto Star newspaper. The award is named for well-known Canadian athlete, referee, and sports writer Lou Marsh.

Klassen, 27, skated into Canadian sports history and international fame when she won five Olympic medals in Torino, Italy, winning two bronze in the 3,000 and 5,000 metres, two silver in the Team Pursuit and 1,000 metres and gold in the 1,500 metres. She owns six Olympic medals in total, adding to a bronze medal in the 3,000 metres from the 2002 Winter Olympics.

IOC President Jacques Rogge called her the athlete of the Games for her amazing performance.

In addition to her medal haul at the Olympics, the unassuming Olympic Oval skater had an outstanding season in 2005-2006. She set nine world records, won 11 World Cup medals, including four first place finishes, and earned the 2006 World Allround Championship title.

“Cindy’s accomplishments last year are outstanding,” says Jean R. Dupré, Director General, Speed Skating Canada. “The number of competitions she excelled in and accolades she accumulated last season are incredible not just in speed skating, but for an athlete in any sport.”

Klassen, who has trained at the Olympic Oval for the last eight years, has won 43 World Cup medals and set 13 world records total. Her amazing career also includes the 2003-2004 season where she missed _ of her training to battle her way back from a potentially life threatening forearm injury, winning two medals at the 2004 World Single Distances Championships.

Klassen, from Winnipeg, Man., is only the third speed skater since 1936 to receive the Lou Marsh award. Both Catriona Le May Doan, two-time Olympic gold medallist, and Gaétan Boucher, four-time Olympic medallist, have won the trophy in 2002 and 1984 respectively.