Claude Ferragne

​Claude Ferragne (born 14 October 1952 in Montréal, Québec) is an athlete who competed in the high jump at the track and field events of the Olympic Summer Games.

Claude Ferragne (born 14 October 1952 in Montréal, Québec) is an athlete who competed in the high jump at the track and field events of the Olympic Summer Games.

Ferragne participated in his first track and field competition in 1967, when he was 14 years old, representing District 4 in a Montreal-wide youth competition. At first, he competed in running events as well as the high jump, but finding he lacked speed, he eventually settled on the high jump as his chosen sport.

With limited financial resources and little equipment, Ferragne, like many other athletes at the time, had to struggle to reach the peak of his sport. Several times each week, he had to make long trips by public transit in order to pursue his athletic training while keeping up with school.

At a meet in Winnipeg in 1969, Ferragne successfully cleared the high-jump bar at 2.13 metres. It was then that he began believing that he might one day compete at the international level.

From 1969 to 1973, Ferragne achieved major progress in his sport. At a Canada/USSR track and field meet at the Montreal Forum on 23 March 1973, he jumped 2.21 metres, a new personal best in competition that won him not only the gold medal, but also the admiration of his fellow Canadians, because it set a new Canadian record in the men’s high jump. In 1974, he took the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand and the gold at an indoor track and field meet between Canada and France. In 1975, Ferragne competed at the Pan American Games in Mexico and began preparing for the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montréal. In 1976, prior to the Olympics, he won gold at indoor meets against West Germany and the United Kingdom.

At the Montréal Olympics, the high-jump competition attracted much attention, because the day before it took place, American high jumper Dwight Stones had made headlines with a statement that he hated French Canadians. The next day, as the qualifying rounds of the competition proceeded, Stones was heartily booed by the local fans who packed the Olympic Stadium. A few minutes later, when it was Claude Ferragne’s turn to jump, the American fans took their revenge and heckled him in turn. When Ferragne cleared the bar at 2.16 metres on his second attempt, Stones approached to congratulate him, but Ferragne ignored Stone’s outstretched hand. The next day, in the finals, Ferragne achieved only a 12th-place finish, but another Canadian, Greg Joy, made history by taking the silver medal.

In 1978, two years after the Montréal Olympics, Ferragne won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. At the end of that year, he was honoured as Québec Athlete of the Decade at the sixth annual Sports Québec awards ceremony. In 1980, Ferragne’s dreams of winning an Olympic medal were shattered when Canada announced its decision to boycott that year’s Olympic Games in Moscow.

Claude Ferragne earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education, and after his athletic career ended, he taught this subject at the CEGEP in Ahuntsic, Québec. He was inducted into the Québec Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.