Search for "athlete"
Ernestine “Ernie” Jean Russell, gymnast, coach (born 10 June 1938 in Windsor, ON). Ernestine Russell was Canada’s best female gymnast of the 1950s. She was the first woman to represent Canada in gymnastics at the Olympic Summer Games, at Melbourne in 1956. She was also the first Canadian gymnast ever to medal in an international competition, at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago, where she won four gold medals and two silver. She won 46 gold medals at the Canadian Gymnastics Championships between 1954 and 1960. She also had a successful career coaching women’s gymnastics at the NCAA level and with Team USA. She has been inducted into the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame and the US Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Angela Frances Chalmers, world-class distance runner from Birdtail Sioux First Nation (born 6 September 1963 in Brandon, MB). Chalmers is one of the most accomplished Indigenous athletes in Canada. She won three gold medals in total at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and 1994. An advocate for Indigenous issues, Chalmers has made efforts to connect with and inspire Indigenous youth from across Canada. Among many honours and awards, Chalmers was inducted into Athletics Canada Hall of Fame in 2019.
Darren Zack (nicknamed Z-Man), pitcher in fastpitch softball (born 9 August 1960 in Garden River First Nation, ON). Compared in his skill to Babe Ruth, Zack dominated fastpitch softball in the 1990s. In addition to many other athletic accomplishments, Zack helped Team Canada win the Pan American Games fastpitch medal in 1991, 1995 and 1999. Though a fearsome competitor, Zack is known for his modest and humble demeanor off the field. He is actively involved in his Garden River First Nation community and in encouraging youth involvement in sports. (See also Baseball.)
Thomas Charles Longboat, distance runner (born 4 July 1886 in Ohsweken, Six Nations Grand River reserve; died 9 January 1949). Tom Longboat (Haudenosaunee name Cogwagee) was an Onondaga distance runner from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation reserve near Brantford, Ontario. Largely because of his ability to dominate any race and his spectacular finishing sprints, he was one of the most celebrated athletes before the First World War.
Terrance Stanley Fox, CC, Order of the Dogwood, athlete, humanitarian, cancer research activist (born 28 July 1958 in Winnipeg, MB; died 28 June 1981 in New Westminster, BC). After losing his right leg to cancer at age 18, Terry Fox decided to run across Canada to raise awareness and money for cancer research. With the use of a customized running prothesis, he set out from St. John’s, Newfoundland, on 12 April 1980 and covered 5,373 km in 143 days — an average of 42 km (26 miles) per day. He was forced to stop his Marathon of Hope in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on 1 September 1980, when cancer had invaded his lungs. He died shortly before his 23rd birthday. The youngest person to be made a Companion of the Order of Canada, he was awarded the 1980 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year and was named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and has had many schools, institutions and landmarks named in his honour. The annual Terry Fox Run has raised more than $800 million for cancer research. The Marathon of Hope raised $24 million by February 1981.
Jerome Peter Drayton (né Peter Buniak), marathoner, long-distance runner (born 10 January 1945 in Kolbermoore, Germany). Jerome Drayton is considered Canada’s top male marathon runner and best male distance runner of all time. He set the Canadian men’s marathon record twice, with times of 2:16:11 in 1968 and 2:10:08.4 in 1975; the latter record stood for 43 years. Drayton competed for Canada at the 1968 and 1976 Olympic Summer Games and won the silver medal in the men’s marathon at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. He is the last male Canadian runner to have won the Boston Marathon (in 1977). He also set a world record in the men’s 10-mile run (46:37.4). A member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Drayton earned 12 national titles and set 13 records in various distances.
Own the Podium
Own the Podium is a non-profit organization that assists national sports bodies in Canada with their investment and training strategies. Based in Ottawa and Calgary, the program provides financial assistance to high-performance Canadian athletes and coaches. It enables them to compete as well as possible at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the goal of medalling (reaching the podium) as much as possible. It was created in 2005, in advance of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Own the Podium is funded by the Government of Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Olympic Foundation.
Canadian Olympic Committee
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is the organization responsible for Canada’s participation at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and Youth Olympic Games. It helps select and financially assist Canadian cities in their efforts to host an Olympic Games or Pan American Games. It also manages programs that promote the values of the Olympics throughout Canada. The organization, which was known as the Canadian Olympic Association (COA) from 1912 to 2002, has a staff of more than 100 people. Its offices are in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
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 Jones Konihowski
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.
Canadian Fact or Fiction
Can you tell whether these statements are true or false? Test your knowledge and learn some fun facts along the way!