Tristen Chernove, Para cycling
Award for Best Games Debut
Tristen Chernove spearheaded a record performance for Canada’s Para cycling team at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Touted as a rising new star in the sport, Chernove won three of Canada’s nine medals in the sport in his Games debut, helping cycling become Canada’s top sport in Rio. He took gold in the C2 time trial road race, silver in the C2 individual pursuit and bronze in the C2 1000-m time trial.
In the lead up to Rio, Chernove took gold in the individual pursuit and the 1000-m time trial at the 2016 World Track Para cycling Championships in March 2016. That was just months after earning two track Para cycling medals in his Canadian track championships debut.
He also displayed his talents on the road. He earned golden performances in the road race and time trial at a World Cup Para cycling event in Belgium in May 2016.
Chernove has had a passion for cycling his whole life. When he was diagnosed in 2009 with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) syndrome which affects his peripheral nerves including his lower legs and ends of his arms and hands, he decided to take up competitive cycling to see how his body would respond to intense physical efforts. The degenerative but non-life threatening disease causes symptoms similar to muscular dystrophy. Chernove believes his lifelong passion for sport and exercise has helped to slow the symptoms of CMT.
Says Chernove, “Cycling brings me more joy than any other sport, and I've been committed to many.”
Aurélie Rivard, Para swimming
Award for Best Female Athlete
Swimmer Aurélie Rivard was Canada’s top medal-winning athlete in Rio, winning four medals in the pool, including three gold and one silver.
Competing in her second Paralympic Games, the 20-year-old Rivard won gold in the S10 50-metre freestyle and the S10 400-m freestyle, setting world records in each. She also won the S10 100-m freestyle in a Paralympic Games record time and silver in the S10 200-m individual medley.
She was chosen as Canada’s flag-bearer for the Closing Ceremony.
Rivard was named Swimming Canada’s and Swimming Word Magazine’s Female Para-swimmer of the Year for 2016. She was amongst the finalists for the Lou Marsh Award for Canada’s athlete of the year, a group that included Penny Oleksiak (the winner), Sidney Crosby and Andre De Grasse.
At the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, she won seven medals (six gold and one silver) including a world record performance in the 100m freestyle. A few weeks earlier in Glasgow, she broke two Canadian records with victories in the 50-m and 400-m freestyles at the IPC World Championships.
Rivard made her first major international breakthrough at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. At those Games, at age 16, she won the silver medal in the 400-m freestyle and reached finals in four other events. At the 2013 IPC World Championships in Montreal, Rivard was the only Canadian swimmer to win five medals (three silver and two bronze).
She was one of three Canadian Para swimmers at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. She earned a bronze in the 200-m individual medley.
Maxime Gagnon, Para ice hockey
Development Coach of the Year Award
Quebec provincial team head coach, director general of Hockey sur luge Montreal, Assistant Executive Director, AlterGo and Director, Défi sportif AlterGo, Maxime Gagnon is credited with growing the popularity of Para ice hockey (formerly known as sledge hockey) significantly in the city of Montreal and province of Quebec.
He grew a program that had 10 athletes seven years ago to close to 120 athletes in junior, women’s and adult programs across the province.
Gagnon has been involved in Para ice hockey for seven years at the local, provincial and national levels. Along with being head coach of Team Quebec and the director general of Hockey sur luge Montréal, Gagnon is the president of the Commission de Hockey sur luge de Hockey Québec and an assistant for Hockey Canada programs. Always ready to jump on the ice with to help support a new athlete, Gagnon has organized many demonstration and initiation events in both Quebec and the Maritimes.
Gagnon helped organize the first Para ice hockey Canadian championships which featured teams from four provinces in 2016. The 2017 edition is now set for May in Boucherville, Que., with six provinces expected to attend.
Sébastien Travers, Para cycling
Tim Frick Paralympic Coach Excellence Award
National Para cycling team head coach Sébastien Travers directed Canada to a historic nine medals in Para cycling at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, making cycling the most successful Paralympic sport for Canada at the Rio Games.
Travers started as a part time Para cycling development coach in 2009 and advanced to become one of the two high performance coaches on the national Para cycling team following the London 2012 Paralympic Games. In London, he coached the Canadian Para cycling team’s only gold medalist – Robbi Weldon, piloted by Lyne Besette.
During the Rio Paralympic cycle, Travers’ leadership and vision brought the Canadian Para cycling program to an all new level. Travers managed and led initiatives which resulted in a more professional, integrated and high-performing team. He is engaged in continually tweaking and refining the team’s high performance development system, integrated support team, research and innovation.
Travers honed his coaching and teaching skills in the academy programs at the Centre National de Cyclisme de Bromont, in Quebec, as well as guest coaching on certain projects with the Quebec provincial cycling team. He acquired a degree in kinesiology from the Université de Sherbrooke and is also a level 4 certified coach and classification expert.