Diane Clement

Diane Elaine Clement (née Matheson), OC, track and field sprinter (born 27 September 1936 in Moncton, New Brunswick). Diane Clement held numerous Canadian sprinting records and won a bronze medal for Canada in the women’s 4x110 yard relay at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. In 1956, she became the first athlete born in New Brunswick to represent Canada at an Olympic Summer Games. In 1959, she became the first female coach of the University of British Columbia women’s track and field team. She was also the first female president of an athletic federation in Canada and the first woman to be the honorary vice-president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation Congress. Clement has been inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and is a Member of the Order of Canada.

Diane Elaine Clement (née Matheson), OC, track and field sprinter (born 27 September 1936 in Moncton, New Brunswick). Diane Clement held numerous Canadian sprinting records and won a bronze medal for Canada in the women’s 4x110 yard relay at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. In 1956, she became the first athlete born in New Brunswick to represent Canada at an Olympic Summer Games. In 1959, she became the first female coach of the University of British Columbia women’s track and field team. She was also the first female president of an athletic federation in Canada and the first woman to be the honorary vice-president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation Congress. Clement has been inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and is a Member of the Order of Canada.



Childhood

As a child, Clement had dreams of being a figure skater. She took up athletics seriously in high school and was trained by her father, who founded the Moncton Olympic Track and Field Club.  Clement and her family later moved to Montreal, where she attended Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University).

Athletic Career

Known as Canada’s finest short-distance sprinter throughout the 1950s, Diane Matheson moved to Toronto in 1954 to train for the 1956 Olympic Summer Games in Melbourne. While competing for the Moncton Olympic Track Club, she was only 18 when she set the Canadian records in the women’s 100- and 220-yard events at a Canadian Olympic training competition in Toronto. She set the Canadian record in the women’s 100 m, 100 yards, 220 yards and 200 m on several occasions. Her career best times were 11.8 seconds for 100 m and 24.7 seconds for 200 m; both were set in 1956.

She won five medals in total at the Canadian Track and Field Championships. She won a gold medal in the women’s 220 yards and a bronze medal in the women’s 100 yards in 1956; gold medals in the women’s 100 yards and 220 yards in 1957; and a silver medal in the women’s 220 yards in 1958. She also unofficially set the world record in the women’s 220 yards. However, the record was not considered official because it was determined that the competitors in the race only ran 219 yards.

Competing Internationally

Diane Clement represented Canada at the 1956 Olympic Summer Games in Melbourne, and was the first ever Olympian from New Brunswick. She competed in the women’s 100 m, 200 m and women’s 4x100 m relay but was unable to get out of the first round in each event.

A personal highlight for Clement at the games was winning a ticket from a random draw to see the musical Kismet. The other winner from the draw was Canadian middle-distance runner Doug Clement. Diane and Doug married three years later; as of 2020 they had been married for 61 years.

Clement’s greatest accomplishment internationally for Canada was winning a bronze medal at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales. She won a bronze medal in the women’s 4x110 yard relay alongside Eleanor Haslam of Saskatoon, Freyda Berman of Vancouver and Maureen Rever of Regina

Coach and Athletics Executive

Prior to the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Clement moved to Vancouver and trained at the University of British Columbia. Following her bronze medal, she returned to the West Coast and became the first-ever female coach of the UBC women’s track and field team. In 1962, Diane and Doug Clement founded the Kajaks Track and Field Club in Richmond, BC. The municipality built them a running track at Minoru Park; in 2011, the track was renamed Minoru Clement Track in their honour.

From 1973 to 1976, Diane Clement served as the president of Athletics Canada, making her the first female president of a sports federation in Canada. During that time, she oversaw Canada’s success at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, and at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City.

In these two prestigious international competitions, Canada won eight gold medals in track and field, seven by Canadian women. The gold medalists in Christchurch were Yvonne Saunders (women’s 400 m), Glenda Reiser (women’s 1500 m) and Jane Haist (women’s shot put and discus). The gold medalists in Mexico City were Bruce Pirnie (men’s shot put), Diane Jones (women’s pentathlon), Joyce Yakubowich (women’s 400 m) and the women’s 4x400 m relay team.

Clement was in charge of Athletics Canada when Montreal became the first Canadian city to host an Olympic Summer Games in 1976. (See The Montreal Olympics.) Clement was also a media liaison for Athletics Canada from 1982 to 1988 and served with the International Association of Athletics Federations Technical Representative for International Competitions from 1992 to 1994. Along with her husband, Doug, Diane Clement was the co-mayor of the Athletes Village during the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and during the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Other Pursuits

Diane Clement is also an accomplished chef. She has written eight cookbooks and cofounded the Tomato Fresh Food Café in Vancouver with her daughter Jennifer. In 1985, Clement cofounded the Vancouver Sun Run, which has become one of the most popular 10 km races in the world.

Awards