Diane Helen Jones Konihowski, OC, pentathlete, administrator (born 7 March 1951 in Vancouver, BC). Diane Jones Konihowski won gold medals for Canada in women’s pentathlon at the 1975 and 1979 Pan American Games and at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. She was considered the gold-medal favourite for the 1980 Olympic Summer Games in Moscow, which Canada boycotted. She also served as director of the Canadian Olympic Committee and as Canada’s chef de mission at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney. A winner of the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s top female athlete and an Officer of the Order of Canada, Jones Konihowski has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Diane Jones Konihowski is the second of four children of Hugh and Joan Jones. Like Diane, her sister Joanne was a pentathlete. She also competed at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City, where Diane won gold and Joanne finished eighth.
Jones was an active athlete as a child. Her first big accomplishment was winning a silver medal in the girls’ broad jump competition at the 1962 Saskatoon Public Elementary Schools Track and Field Meet. In addition to track and field, she was involved in ballet, broomball, volleyball, basketball and gymnastics. At age 14, she won silver in the girls’ all-around competition in the novice division at the Manitoba Open Gymnastics Meet In 1967, while attending Aden Bowman Collegiate at age 15, she represented Saskatchewan in women’s volleyball at the first Canada Winter Games in Quebec City.
Early Track and Field Success
Jones showed her strongest skillset in track and field. At the 1965 Saskatchewan Jubilee Games, she won the gold medal in the midget girls’ high jump. By 1967, at the age of 16, she was representing Canada internationally in track and field events. She was also having great success in competitions in Canada. In 1968, still at the age of 16, she won the gold medal in the women’s high jump at the Canadian Indoor Track and Field Championships in Edmonton. In 1969, she set the Saskatoon High School Track and Field Championship senior girls’ shot put record with a throw of 12.82 metres — a record that stands to this day.
1969 Canada Summer Games
At age 18, Jones competed for Team Saskatchewan at the 1969 Canada Summer Games in Halifax. She became the first Saskatchewan gold medallist in the Canada Summer Games when she won the women’s pentathlon (200 m sprint, 80 m hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put). She also won silver in the women’s high jump.
At that time, she started a relationship with John Konihowski. He had won a bronze medal for Saskatchewan in the men’s triple jump at the 1969 Canada Summer Games and later played nine seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL), winning four Grey Cups as a wide receiver with the Edmonton Eskimos (now the Edmonton Football Team). Diane and John married in 1977.
Jones attended the University of Saskatchewan from 1969 to 1976. She competed in track and field and women’s volleyball while earning a degree in physical education. During that time, she won three Canada West Conference Championships (1970, 1971, 1975), 12 gold medals, and the 1974 and 1975 Mary Ethel Cartwright Trophy, presented to the top female athlete at the University of Saskatchewan.
While attending university, Jones won the bronze medal for Canada in the women’s high jump at the 1969 Pacific Conference Games in Tokyo. She also represented Canada at the 1972 Olympic Summer Games in Munich (finishing tenth in the pentathlon) and won a bronze medal at the Summer Universiade in Moscow.
Gold Medals at International Events
In the 1970s, Jones Konihowski was considered by many to be Canada’s best all-around track and field athlete. From 1973 to 1978, she won six consecutive gold medals in women’s pentathlon at the Canadian Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
In 1975, Jones won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Mexico City. She followed that with a sixth-place finish in women’s pentathlon at the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montreal and a gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. There, Jones Konihowski was dominant. She posted the fastest time in the 100 m hurdles (13.85 seconds), threw the farthest shot put (14.87 metres) and scored the best high jump (1.88 m) and long jump (6.41 metres) for a total of 4,768 points — a Canadian record and the most in the world in 1978. She successfully defended her gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
1980 Olympic Boycott
Jones Konihowski did not have a chance to represent Canada at the 1980 Olympic Summer Games in Moscow. The Canadian government decided to follow the US lead and boycott the Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Jones Konihowski considered competing as an independent athlete but decided against it. Two weeks after the Olympic Games, she won a major event in Germany, where she beat all the 1980 Olympic medallists.
Jones Konihowski currently lives in Calgary with her husband John Konihowski. They have two daughters, Janna and Alana.
After Jones Konihowski retired as an athlete, she became active in sports administration. She was the director of the Canadian Olympic Committee and Fair Play Canada, as well as CEO of KidSport Canada. She also served as Canada’s chef de mission at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney.
Honours and Awards
- Velma Springstead Canadian Female Athlete of the Year Award (1975, 1978)
- Bobbie Rosenfeld Award (1978)
- Officer, Order of Canada (1978)
- Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (1980)
- Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame (1986)
- Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1996)
- Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (2002)
- Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (2020)
- Canada West Conference Hall of Fame (2021)