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Sanders repeats at WESPY Awards


by Adam Gault

World class triathlete and Harrow native, Lionel Sanders, accomplished another monumental feat in his storied athletic career on Tuesday, March 20, when he repeated being recognized as male athlete of the year at the 13th annual Windsor Essex Sports Person of the Year (WESPY) Awards.


The Caboto Club in Windsor was filled to capacity for the ever-growing event, which recognizes individuals and athletes from across Windsor-Essex who excel in the many facets of their respective sports.


“It’s a great night for our sports community. We showcase Windsor and Essex County sports, and its depth of talent, great athletes, and great organizations tonight,” WESPY founder, Dominic Papa, said. “I’m so very happy to be doing that, and the WESPY awards are a good vehicle to do this. This is all about being a good sport here tonight.”


For the first time ever, the male athlete of the year award was shared between two winners, as Sanders shared the honour with Windsor Clippers lacrosse player, Andrew Garant.


“It’s an honour, I love this community. To be recognized by my community who, when I was in a dark place back in 2009, showed me the light really, and put me on the right path, to be recognized by that community is an honour,” Sanders said upon receiving the award. “All I really want to do is inspire other people to do the same and be there if a young guy that needs help along the way to go towards their goals and dreams.”


Before becoming an international calibre triathlete, Sanders struggled with addiction and personal issues.


He hopes his story of overcoming addiction, to world class and record setting athlete, will resonate with others who are facing their own personal struggles.


“You got to want it for yourself, that’s the biggest thing,” Sanders explained. “Many times, along the way, people told me, ‘hey man, you got a problem, you need to change.’ But, until you want to do it yourself, you’re never truly going to change. I truly believe when you want to do something, you can do it, and the world will create what you need in order to do it.”


Since being recognized by the Town of Essex with his picture and record setting time on the ‘Welcome to Harrow’ sign on Queen Street, Sanders continues to compete at a world class level, winning the Iron Man Arizona just a week after the sign unveiling, competing in South America, and in just one week’s time, racing in Oceanside, California.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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