‘There are a lot of really great athletes in Orillia. That’s what makes this mean a lot,’ says Isabella Holmgren, Orillia’s Athlete of the Year for 202.

Isabella Holmgren was named the 2023 Orillia Athlete of the Year during a ceremony at Orillia’s Rotary Place Thursday evening.

The 18-year-old elite cyclist won two world championships in two different cycling disciplines in 2023, which made her stand out among the three nominees for Orillia’s most prestigious athletic award.

“This is super special,” Holmgren said. “I’m very happy and grateful to be recognized with other great athletes from Orillia.”

Since 2022, Holmgren, 18, has cycled on to the podium multiple times in a sport that is dominated by European riders on the world stage. However, winning the Orillia Athlete of the Year is one of her biggest accomplishments, she said.

“This is super cool,” she said. “My brother, Gunnar, (won this award) a few years ago which also makes this special.”

While Holmgren proudly accepted the award, she says fellow nominees Chas Sharpe (hockey) and Wyatt Thompson (baseball) were also more than deserving of the honour.

“There are a lot of really great athletes in Orillia,” she said. “That’s what makes this mean a lot.”

In February 2023, Holmgren became the first Canadian to win the Junior Cyclocross World Championship held in the Netherlands.

“It was special because it showed how hard Canada has worked as a federation,” she said. “A lot of people worked really hard to get us to that point.”

Finishing second at the world championship was Holmgren’s twin sister, Ava.

“I think she’s definitely worthy of this award, too,” Holmgren said. “Even more than me maybe.”

Both Holmgren sisters recently signed with Lidl-Trek, a WorldTour road cycling team that competes in Europe. Holmgren says she would never be able to live out her cycling dreams without the support of her sister.

“We push each other a lot in training,” she said. “We motivate each other constantly.”

Orillia Mayor Don McIsaac says he is proud of Holmgren’s accomplishments.

“It’s unusual to have an athlete who has three world championships for mountain bike, cyclocross, and road bike before 19,” he said. “I think that’s very impressive.”

Orillia Sport Council President Roy Micks says Holmgren is well deserving of the Athlete of the Year award.

“I think she is someone all girls can look up to,” he said. “Winning two world championships in one year is one of the biggest accomplishments we’ve ever seen from somebody from Orillia.”

Orillia Sports Hall of Famer (2018) Jayme Davis, who won the 2007 Orillia Athlete of the Year Award, says it’s important to celebrate athletes like Holmgren each year with the award.

“It’s a pretty special honour,” said Davis, who is a member of the Orillia Sport Council. “It’s important for athletes like Isabella to know as they are competing at such a high level that they have a whole community behind them. It’s very powerful.”

Davis says it’s “special” to recognize local female athletes.

“Historically, we often think of males as being dominant, powerful, and successful in sport,” she said. “It’s important for our community to know that we have really strong female athletes.”

Original Article By: Tyler Evans
Site: Orillia Matters
Date: Feb. 15, 2024
Link to Original: Link to Orillia Matters
Photo: Supplied Photos / Orillia Matters