Catriona Le May Doan named winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy

Speed skater Catriona Le May Doan was named the winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy on Tuesday, narrowly defeating NBA star Steve Nash.

The award, decided by a selected panel of sports editors and broadcasters, is given annually to Canada's outstanding athlete by the Toronto Star.

A second vote was needed to determine Le May Doan as the winner after she and Nash, a native of Victoria, were tied in the first round of voting.

The other finalists were: cross-country skier Beckie Scott, pairs figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Eric Gagne, short-track speed skater Marc Gagnon, cyclist and speed skater Clara Hughes, doubles tennis player Daniel Nestor and hockey players Jarome Iginla and Steve Yzerman.

“People talk about us being a small country in terms of population, but look at all the great athletes we have,” Le May Doan told the Toronto Sun from China, where she's sightseeing following World Cup events in Japan and China. “This is one of my greatest honours.”

Sale and Pelletier won the award last year.

In one of the dominating Canadian images of the Salt Lake City Olympics, Le May Doan wore her husband's black cowboy hat as she did a victory lap after winning the 500-metre gold medal.

The Saskatoon native, who was named The Canadian Press female athlete of the year for 2001, dominated the skating world in 2002, winning the Olympic, world sprint and World Cup titles in the 500 metres. Her streak of 20 straight 500-metre wins ended when she placed second in the final World Cup race of the year.

Despite a sore back she has opened the World Cup season with a second and a third in the 500 metres and a third in the 1,000.

“I've been struggling ... and this is a great confidence booster,” she said. “I couldn't think of a better way to end 2002.”

Nash, a 28-year-old Dallas Mavericks point guard, became Canada's first NBA all-star last season and was ranked the most underrated player in the NBA in a poll of league general managers. He finished the 2001-02 season averaging 17.9 points per game. The Mavericks finished 57-25 last season losing to Sacramento in the Western Conference semifinals. They started this season with a 14-game winning streak.

The panel included representatives from the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Globe and Mail, National Post, Montreal Gazette, The Canadian Press, CBC, CTV and The Score.