SFU sprinter Marie-Éloïse Leclair named GNAC female athlete of the year for 2024

SFU sprinter Marie-Éloïse Leclair has been named NCAA Division II Great Northwes
SFU sprinter Marie-Éloïse Leclair has been named NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference female athlete of the year. Photo: Loren Orr
Simon Fraser University sprinter Marie-Éloïse Leclair has been named Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) female athlete of the year following another stellar season representing the red and white.

The award which goes to the top athlete in the NCAA Division II GNAC conference, was announced on June 25, 2024. It bookends another fabulous collegiate milestone for the 21-year-old from Montreal.

Leclair finishes her season at SFU as the all-time GNAC record holder in the 100m and 200m outdoor, as well as the 60m, 200m and 400m indoor events.

She joins Alison Andrews-Paul (2021-2022), Lindsay Butterworth (2014-2015), Helen Crofts (2012-2013) as the fourth SFU recipient of the GNAC female athlete of the year. Aaron Ahl (2021-2022) and Mamadi Camara (2018-2019) have been named GNAC male athlete of the year.

"Marie has always shown maturity and composure before and during competitions," SFU head coach Brit Townsend, told GNAC news. "She is able to focus while still being a leader with her teammates. A great smile greets anyone who comes to talk to her. She is genuine and down to earth which is refreshing for an athlete of her ability and success.

"This is not to say she is not determined and motivated to be the very best. Her recent trip with the National Team to the World Athletic relays revealed how she can deliver in the most stressful of situations."

In May, Leclair was a member of Canada’s 4x100m relay team that qualified for the Paris Games at the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas. Leclair ran the second leg with a time of 10.53 seconds. The final Olympic selection will be made at the end of June.

At the national 2024 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Leclair garnered two first-team All-American honours with a fifth-place finish in the 200m (a personal best and GNAC record of 23.17 seconds) and seventh place finish in the 100m (11.37 seconds).

In March, Leclair was named GNAC indoor track and field female athlete of the year after she placed second in the 200m and third in the 60m at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.

"She is hardworking and challenges herself everyday," Townsend says. "She is pleasant to be around and treats everyone around her with respect and compassion. Sprint coach Tom Dickson and Marie have a great working relationship and he has been instrumental in her progress and success over the last four years.

"Her success stems from her passion, focus, work ethic, of course talent and character."

Leclair enrolled at SFU, planning to study in the Faculty of Health Sciences, after graduating in 2019 from Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert in Candiac, Québec, where she was the top-ranked sprinter in the province.

Simon Fraser University is the only Canadian member of the U.S.-based National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the largest collegiate sports organization in the world.