What’s better than a top Canadian athlete? Try two top Canadian athletes.

Super Bowl-winning NFL player and health-care hero Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and 20-year-old soccer superstar and refugee advocate Alphonso Davies were named co-winners of the Lou Marsh “Canadian Athlete of the Year” Tuesday, the highest honour in Canadian sports.

The annual award is decided by a committee of Canadian sports journalists. This year marks only the third tie in the voting body’s 84-year history, with 18 votes for Duvernay-Tardif and18 votes for Davies.

The pair of 2020 winners follow 2019 Lou Marsh winner, tennis player Bianca Andreescu

WATCH: Bianca Andreescu wins 2019 Lou Marsh award. Story continues below.

 

Both of this year’s winners were recognized for their stellar on-field play, in addition to their work off the field. 

The good doctor from Quebec

Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the 2020 NFL season and worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Quebec. Duverny-Tardif graduated from McGill University with a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery degree in 2018, an education he put to use as the pandemic ravaged the province’s long-term care system.

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“This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally,” he said of opting out.

The Lou Marsh announcement comes a day after Duvernay-Tardif was named one of Sports Illustrated’s “Sportspersons Of The Year” for his work during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a video accompanying the award, Duvernay-Tardif acknowledged the thousands of health-care workers who made the same choice he did.

“I’m not a superhero, I just made the same decision thousands of people made, like retired teachers, nurses, doctors that went back and helped on the front lines,” he said.  

“The only thing is that I was playing football for the Kansas City Chiefs and had just won the Super Bowl.”

Duvernay-Tardif dedicated the award to health-care workers around the world. 

“We’re able to go about our lives right now because there are people making sacrifices, and I think it’s important to acknowledge them,” he said. 

It’s not the first time he’s been honoured for his work during the pandemic. Duvernay-Tardif’s lab coat and scrubs now sit in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

From winning a Super Bowl to being named Canada’s top athlete, what a year for the doctor from Quebec! 

The soccer phenom

Davies, a former Vancouver Whitecaps player, now plays in the German soccer league with Bayern Munich. At age 16, he was the youngest Canadian to score a goal in an international match. Davies was the first player born in the 2000s to play a Major League Soccer match, when he first hit the field in 2019.  

Since heading to Germany, he’s broken record after record, and was signed to continue with Bayern Munich through 2025.

Much like his co-winner, he’s also made a remarkable impact off the field. Davies was born in a refugee camp in Ghana to Liberian parents and resettled with his family in Canada when he was five years old.

Davies has since become a speaker and advocate for the United Nations Refugee Agency.  

“I want to use my platform for causes that I care about,” he said earlier this year. “As a former refugee myself I am very grateful for the help my family received, and the opportunities this opened-up for me and where it has brought me.”

According to the voting committee’s executive director, Duvernay-Tardif is even a fan.

“When I told LDT he was a co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy, he asked me for one favour. “I’d like to meet Alphonso!” he said. Well, we will see what we can do!” he wrote on Twitter. 

Two worthy winners indeed!

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