Christine Sinclair was the biggest Canadian story of the London Olympics. (Getty Images)It shouldn't come as a surprise that about two weeks after Christine Sinclair was snubbed by FIFA and left off the shortlist of nominees for the women's player of the year award, the 29-year-old has been named the 2012 recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy.
The award is voted on by a panel of Canadian sports journalists and is bestowed upon Canada's top athlete in a given year. Recent recipients include figure skater Patrick Chan, NHL superstar Sidney Crosby and Cincinnati Reds standout Joey Votto.
Sinclair, a native of Burnaby, B.C. was a dominant force for the Canadian women's soccer team at the 2012 Olympics in London, scoring six goals including hat-trick in the semifinal against the United States in what turned out to be a heartbreaking 4-3 loss.
She led the team to a bronze medal — the first medal for Canada in a traditional team sport at the Summer Games in more than 70 years — and was considered the biggest Canadian story coming out of London, even though Rosie MacLennan captured the country's lone gold medal.
Sinclair was vocal during and after Canada's semifinal loss citing poor refereeing as the reason Canada failed to advance to the gold medal match in London. "It's a shame in a game like that that was so important, the ref decided the result before it started," she told reporters following the loss to the U.S. and it's widely assumed that those comments combined with what FIFA referred to as "unsporting behaviour towards match officials after the match" that earned Sinclair a four-game suspension, $3,500 fine and may be the reason soccer's governing body chose to overlook her.
While the head coach of the Canadian women's national team, John Herdman, called the Sinclair FIFA snubbing a 'travesty' if nothing else, the disappointing story brought more attention on the Canadian soccer star and reminded those who may not have been following the Olympics closely of her impressive performance in London.
Herdman told the National Post last week:
"The amount of people who have stopped and talked about the story, but who have also said, 'listen, if it wasn't for Christine and those girls, my daughter might have dropped out of soccer,' or, 'my daughter has started to play soccer,' or 'she's rejuvenated again, and as a family, we're back into soccer.' I mean, I don't think anyone can quantify the things the team achieved, and Christine's impact on Canadian kids."
And it's that impact that makes Sinclair the correct choice for the Lou Marsh Award this year. While all the other finalists — Ryder Hesjedal, Jon Cornish, Rosie MacLennan and Patrick Chan — could make arguments for themselves because of their impressive performances on the field of play, Sinclair's story — as many do at the Olympics — transcended sport. She along with the entire women's soccer team gave the country a team to get behind similar to how the men's hockey team did at the Vancouver Games in 2010 and brought attention to a sport and a team that is rarely talked about in this country due to lack of success on the international stage.
So while winning an internationally recognized award like the FIFA women's player of the year would have been an impressive feat for a Canadian player, taking home the Lou Marsh Award puts the perfect Canadian spin on a memorable Olympic performance.