By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – An 18-year-old weightlifter won top prize at a popular annual ceremony celebrating half a century of Cornwall’s athletic achievements.
Kelly McGillis was awarded the Jacques Richard Trophy, an accolade reserved for Cornwall and area’s top sports personality, at the 50th Cornwall Lions Club Sports Awards Dinner.
“It was very nerve-wracking at first, I didn’t think it would happen, but it’s very exhilarating to hold this award,” said McGillis, a student at St. Joseph’s Secondary School.
David Murphy, event chair and MC, said she’s on track to becoming Cornwall’s next Olympian, joining the likes of Lori Dupuis, Melanie Banville, and Christina Julien.
McGillis captured gold at the Canadian Junior Weightlifting Championships in Scarborough in January.
“I’m hoping to pursue and maybe one day compete in the Olympics,” she said.
McGillis also won the 2013 Ontario Junior Championship, Ontario Senior Championship as well as earning silver at the Canadian junior competition.
Murphy said she’s excelled from day one and is the main reason the Cornwall Weightlifting Club continues to grow.
McGillis thanked her weightlifting coach Tyler Touchette for his unwavering dedication to her success.
“I missed out on a lot of events with my friends to train with my coach, but it was worth it,” she said. “Tyler’s never given up on me. No matter how I’m feeling he always helps push me through it.”
But Olympic style weightlifting wasn’t always her passion. Before she started nearly four years ago, McGillis could be found on the ice.
“I never thought I would become a weightlifter, I was always into hockey,” said McGillis. “But I thought I would give it a shot – you can’t just stick to one thing only – and I really liked it.”
Her brother, Dan McGillis, is a former NHL player.
And it wasn’t her first time up at the podium either.
McGillis won the RBC Girls Rugby Award for leading the St. Joe’s Women’s rugby team to many victories.