Talented cyclist named Orillia’s Athlete of the Year

‘Gunnar (Holmgren) is an exceptional athlete who has demonstrated how hard work and a positive attitude leads to success,’ says cycling official

A decorated athlete who has shone on local, provincial, national and world stages has been named Orillia’s 2021 Athlete of the Year.

Gunnar Holmgren was announced as the recipient during Monday’s city council meeting.

He had a “standout year” in 2021, explained Erica Veldman, the city’s sports and senior recreation co-ordinator.

Holmgren earned the title of Canadian National Mountain Biking champion in the under-23 men’s category. He also took first place at the Canada Cup in Sherbrooke, Que.

He is the reigning U23 Canadian National Cyclocross champion.

Internationally, Holmgren placed ninth at World Cup competitions in Switzerland and West Virginia.

Through his role on the Hardwood Next Wave Cycling board, Holmgren works with young athletes.

Marc Ackert, who nominated Holmgren for Athlete of the Year, said the cyclist’s leadership was “paramount to keeping youth engaged” through the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a work ethic that is “second to none,” Holmgren “demonstrates perseverance, passion and leadership,” Veldman said.

Jamie MacKinnon, a parent of a child coached and mentored by Holmgren, praised the athlete for “providing any assistance that anyone may need, whether it is sharing some tips that have worked for him, taking an athlete out on course, or helping a coach when they need it.

“He is always the first to step in and help. His enthusiasm for the sport is always showing and he passes this on to our younger riders. ”

Holmgren’s nomination was endorsed by Michael Suraci, director of high performance and operations with the Ontario Cycling Association.

“Gunnar is an exceptional athlete who has demonstrated how hard work and a positive attitude leads to success,” Suraci wrote.

In a brief statement after being announced as Athlete of the Year, Holmgren said it was “an honor to receive this award.”

He thanked the local business community for its support.

“My athletic achievements would really not be possible without your support,” he said.

Mayor Steve Clarke congratulated Holmgren on behalf of city council.

“Your dedication, perseverance, discipline, passion and leadership will serve you well in your future endeavors,” he said.

“Thanks for all that you’ve done to put Orillia on the sports map.”

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