As Sports BC prepares for its 55th awards ceremony, a Sunshine Coast teen will soon find out if she is an athlete of the year.
Gracey Hemstreet is one of the finalists for the Junior Female Athlete of the Year award, which honours “exceptional efforts and accomplishments” in 2021 and 2022. In those years, the Sechelt-raised downhill mountain biker landed on her first Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Biking World Cup podium — then earned a streak of five consecutive medals before winning the Junior World Championship title — and became a national junior champion. Red Bull surprised her with a helmet, officially inviting her into the fold.
In an interview, Hemstreet said it is an honour to be selected for the award, and she’s excited for the upcoming awards ceremony on March 9.
On her Instagram account, Hemstreet described 2022 as the best year of her life.
“My dreams literally became true! But it is only the beginning and I cannot wait for what 2023 will bring,” she wrote three days into 2023.
Hemstreet told Coast Reporter that becoming a Red Bull athlete was her biggest dream as a kid. Now, she’s training harder than ever for what’s next. At 18 years old, this year she’ll go from the juniors to competing at the Elite level. She hopes her training will pay off and land her in the top five overall.
Fellow nominees in the Junior Female Athlete of the Year category are Renee Batalla for diving, Oonah Gamboa for karate, Lauren Kim for golf and Alicia Zhang for ultimate.
Other athlete of the year categories include athlete with a disability, college athlete of the year, female coach of the year, male coach of the year, high school athletes of the year (male and female categories), university athlete of the year, team of the year and more.
The awards ceremony will also present awards for the Best of BC, BC Community Champion, Harry Jerome Comeback, Daryl Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award and In Her Footsteps Honourees to athletes across 29 sports. The ceremony is set to take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on March 9.