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Lionel Conacher Award

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The Lionel Conacher Award is an annual award given to Canada's male athlete of the year. The sports writers of the Canadian Press (CP) first conducted a poll to determine the nation's top athlete, of either gender, in 1932. Separate polls for the best male and female athletes were conducted beginning the following year. The CP formalized the poll into an award in 1978, presenting their winner with a plaque. It was named after Lionel Conacher, a multi-sport champion whom the news organization had named its top athlete of the half-century in 1950. The award is separate from the Lou Marsh Trophy, in which a select panel of sports writers vote for their top overall athlete.

The poll was suspended for four years during the Second World War after the CP decided it could not name a sporting "hero" at a time when Canadian soldiers were fighting in Europe. Football player Joe Krol became the first repeat winner following the war, earning top spot in both 1946 and 1947. Hockey star Maurice Richard was the first three-time winner in 1958, and baseball pitcher Ferguson Jenkins the first four-time winner in 1974. Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky has won the most Lionel Conacher Awards, finishing top of the poll six times in the 1980s, and in 1999 was named the Canadian Press Athlete of the Century.