Matt Dunlap Wins Chris Canning Award

July 03, 2009, 11:47 p.m. (ET)

Matt Dunlap (Hermiston, Ore.) was named the recipient of the 5th Annual Chris Canning Award of Excellence on Friday at the Junior Olympic Taekwondo Championships in Austin, Texas.

The Chris Canning Award of Excellence was adopted in honor and tribute to Christopher James Canning, an accomplished martial artist, who died accidentally in June of 2001, at the age of 15. Chris was an honor student, a star athlete for his school in football, basketball, and baseball, a classical pianist, worked at an animal shelter, and helped the homeless and needy. In just 4 years as a martial artist, he earned his first degree black belt in Taekwondo, was a member of 11 state teams, won over 30 medals at the national and state level including 15 state and 3 national titles, was an AAU All American, member of the U.S. Elite team training at the Olympic Training Center, invited to the U.S. Gold Team training and was a five-time athlete of the week and Illinois' USNTF athlete and student of the year.

The Chris Canning Award of Excellence is presented to the one martial artist who most exhibits what Chris represented and achieved. He or she has excelled academically, gained national and international acclaim as a martial arts competitor, given back to the community they live in and demonstrated the same personal attributes as the awards namesake.

Dunlap, 18, is currently attending Blue Mountain Community College where he majors in marketing. He was an honor student at Stanfield High School and was a member of the varsity tennis, basketball, football and track teams. A class treasurer and FFA District representative, Dunlap volunteers his services for Hospice, the American Cancer Society and the Red Cross. He is also enlisted in the United States Air Force on the delayed entry program. 

A 3rd-degree black belt, Dunlap is a three-time member of the U.S. National Poomsae Team and has competed at two World Poomsae Championships. He has won numerous medals in competition, including gold at the 2008 U.S. Open, 2007 Junior Olympics and 2006 Senior Nationals. 

Other finalists for this year's award were Olie Burton (Accokeek, Md.), Bryan Monte de Oca (Ridgewood, N.Y.), Aaron Porras (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Jared Schneider (Sugar Land, Texas). 

Winners of the Chris Canning Award of Excellence

  • Matt Dunlap (2009)
  • Paige McPherson (2008)
  • Jermaine James (2007)
  • Maia Eubanks (2006)
  • Aimee Callison (2005)