City of Airdrie honours 2022 Elite Athletes

Story and Photos by Jim Zang

Winter 2022/23

The City of Airdrie’s 2022 Elite Athletes were recognized in a plaque unveiling ceremony on Thursday, February 9, at Genesis Place.

The two 2022 Elite Athlete award recipients are Chad Anheliger, an accomplished professional UFC mixed martial artist, and Sienna MacDonald, the 2022 women’s heptathlon winner at the Bell Canadian National Track and Field championships.

An eight-year resident of Airdrie, Chad Anheliger burst onto the professional MMA scene by winning the 2019 Bantamweight Canadian Championship professional title with a knockout and earning a UFC contract as winner of the Dana White Contender Series in 2021. He then won his UFC debut fight in 2022 in Las Vegas, again by knockout.

“As athletes, we’re grateful for the support,” says Anheliger. “Every little bit counts and helps get us through some of the hard training. It’s awesome to have things like this. It’s definitely something that we’ll remember for a very long time.”

Sienna MacDonald began competing in track and field while attending George McDougall High School in Airdrie and has since made her mark on the national stage, medaling at the 2022 Canada Summer Games and winning gold in pentathalon, silver in 60-metre hurdles and silver in long jump at the 2022 Canada West Championships where she competes as part of the U of C Dinos team.

“I just want to say thank you for everyone’s support,” says MacDonald. “I really appreciate it. Airdrie has been such a great community!”

The Airdrie Elite Athlete program recognizes current or former long-time Airdrie residents who have achieved athletic excellence in their field and who have made significant contributions to the Airdrie community.

“We are pleased to be able to recognize the outstanding athletes in Airdrie who have shown extraordinary dedication to both their sport and their community through the Elite Athlete program,” says Clay Aragon, City of Airdrie manager of recreation, culture and social planning. “This year’s recipients are both rising stars in their respective sports and have already demonstrated incredible skill. We are excited to see where their careers take them.”

Nominations for the Airdrie Elite Athlete program are accepted year-round and are reviewed every fall. You can learn more about the Airdrie Elite Athlete program and view a list of past recipients at