Leo Emond and Aya Burrell Named Recipients of the Inaugural Lorne Lasuita Saskatchewan Games Athletic Award
Regina, SK (June 22, 2023) — The Saskatchewan Games Council is thrilled to announce the recipients of the inaugural Lorne Lasuita Saskatchewan Games Athletic Award. Team North Weightlifting athlete Leo Emond and Team Parkland Valley Figure Skating athlete Aya Burrell have been selected following their participation in the 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games in Regina, presented by Teine Energy.
The Lorne Lasuita Saskatchewan Games Athletic Award is presented to one male and one female athlete who best combined competitive performance, strong leadership skills, good sporting conduct, and a spirit of fair play, cooperation, and friendship. The Award provides an athletic bursary intended to assist the recipients with their ongoing participation in sport.
Emond, a member of Lac La Ronge Indian Band, began training in Olympic Weightlifting just four weeks prior to the Saskatchewan Games, which took place in February 2023. During his first-ever competition, he won gold in the men’s 89 KG category, setting an age group provincial record in the process. His momentum in the sport has continued to build: he broke even more youth provincial records at this spring’s Saskatchewan Weightlifting Provincial Championships, and is looking towards one day competing on the national stage.
Yorkton’s Burrell earned a silver medal in the Pre-Novice Ladies Figure Skating event at the 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games. Just two days after competing in Regina, she flew to Prince Edward Island to compete for Team Sask in the 2023 Canada Winter Games, where she finished as Saskatchewan’s top competitor in her event. Burrell volunteers twice a week with Skate Yorkton, coaching 3-10 year olds in CanSkate. Her goals are to compete at the National Senior level and to one day represent Team Canada on the international stage.
Both are described by their nominators as humble, encouraging leaders and teammates; dedicated and driven athletes; and engaged and positive members of their respective communities.
The Award was established in 2019 to recognize the valuable contributions Lasuita has made to the Saskatchewan Games program. Throughout his impactful 50-plus year career in sport and recreation, Lasuita has played a key role in more than 50 multi-sport games -- including the Saskatchewan Games, the Canada Games, and the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics. As Provincial Games Consultant until his retirement in 2019, Lasuita played an instrumental role in building the Saskatchewan Games program into what it is today, having been a part of every edition of the biennial Saskatchewan Games from 1974 through 2023 – only missing the first-ever Games in 1972. Lasuita was recently inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, earning a spot as a Builder in the Class of 2023.
The next instalment of the Saskatchewan Games will take place in Lloydminster from July 21-27, 2024. The 2024 Saskatchewan Summer Games in Lloydminster, presented by Teine Energy, will feature competition in 15 sports among 1,800+ athletes, coaches, and team staff from across the province, in addition to the contributions of upwards of 1,000 local volunteers.
“To win this award is an honour. To me, the Saskatchewan Games meant representing the North. My favourite part was the energy and people. At the Games, even though we were all competing with each other, we were also encouraging each other.” - Award recipient Leo Emond
“I am honoured to be receiving the inaugural Lorne Lasuita Award. A big thank you to the selection committee for choosing me as one of the recipients. My favourite part of the Saskatchewan Winter Games was being with my skating friends and competing against my peers from around the province. I would like to thank everyone who made the 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games a huge success." - Award recipient Aya Burrell
“Congratulations to Aya and Leo -- both for their exceptional performances at the 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games in Regina and for their demonstrations of leadership and team spirit on and off the field of play. The Saskatchewan Games Council is proud to support the development of these leaders in both sport and community.” - Saskatchewan Games Council Executive Director Mark Bracken
About the Saskatchewan Games
First established in 1972, the purpose of the biennial Saskatchewan Games is to provide an opportunity for the province’s developing athletes, coaches and officials to participate in an exciting multi-sport event in preparation for a higher level of competition. Countless Saskatchewan Games alumni have advanced to competition at the national level and beyond, with Olympic champions such as Catriona Le May Doan, Emily Clarke, Colleen Sostorics, and Lucas Makowsky counting the Saskatchewan Games as a key step in their journey to the highest levels of sport. The Saskatchewan Games also leave behind valuable legacies that benefit each host community for years to come. To learn more, visit www.saskgames.ca.
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