December 13, 2016 / 8:15 PM / 7 months ago

Rio darling Oleksiak named Canada's athlete of the year

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Sep 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Canadian Olympian athlete Penny Oleksiak throws out the first pitch prior to a game between the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO (Reuters) - Olympic swimming sensation Penny Oleksiak won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete of the year on Tuesday, capping off a remarkable year in which the 16-year-old won four medals at the Rio Games.

Oleksiak, the youngest and 74th recipient of the award, burst onto the scene in Rio where she became the first Canadian to win four medals at a Summer Games, including gold in the marquee 100 metres freestyle.

She also took a silver in the 100m butterfly and bronze from two relays.

Oleksiak beat out a strong field for the prestigious award that included hockey player Sidney Crosby, sprinter Andre De Grasse and golf's Brooke Henderson.

The Lou Marsh Trophy, named after a former Toronto Star sports editor, is voted on by a panel of Canadian journalists.

Past winners include Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, Masters champion Mike Weir, Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, NBA most valuable player Steve Nash and drug-tainted sprinter Ben Johnson.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue

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