Eight athletes are in the running to be named Waterloo Region’s Athlete of the Year for 2016.

The award is presented annually by the Kitchener Sports Association and sponsored by Civitan Sports Waterloo Region.

Recent winners include boxer Mandy Bujold, figure skaters Andrew Poje and Kaitlyn Weaver, and figure skaters Dylan Moscovitch and Kirsten Moore-Towers.

Nominees for the 2016 edition of the award include:

  • Waterloo swimmer Alec Elliot, who competed in six disciplines at the Paralympics, including being part of a Canadian record in the 100-metre medley relay
  • Kitchener lawn bowler Darryl Fitzgerald, who skipped Team Canada to a gold medal in the North American Challenge
  • Alyssa Lagonia, a soccer player from Kitchener who played in a professional league in Switzerland and finished third in the league in scoring
  • Jamal Murray, a basketball player from Kitchener who was drafted to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets after setting a University of Kentucky record for the most three-pointers in a season by a freshman
  • Elmira golfer Garrett Rank, who won his third straight Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur tournament while also becoming a referee in the NHL
  • Hockey player Mark Scheifele, who grew up in Kitchener, averaged more than one point per game with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, and helped Team Canada to a gold medal in the IIHF World Hockey Championship
  • Dhane Smith, a Kitchener-raised lacrosse player who was named the National Lacrosse League’s Most Valuable Player after leading the league with 137 points
  • Kevin Sorley, a sledge hockey player from Petersburg who helped Team Canada to a silver medal at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge

The winner will be named on May 16.

Also announced Monday were recipients of this year’s Athlete of the Year Awards of Excellence, which are given to athletes or teams who serve as positive role models in the sporting community through volunteerism.

This year’s winners are:

  • Bruce Young, a longtime fastball coach who helped merge the Kitchener and Waterloo minor boys’ softball associations
  • The Kitchener Minor Baseball Association 2016 Minor Bantam Tier One squad, which collected 5,000 pounds of food and $1,600 in cash for the Food Bank of Waterloo Reigon
  • The Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy, which hosts after-school and seniors’ programs in addition to its more well-known recreational and competitive offerings