Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Canadian History and Society: Through the Lens of Sport Virtual Museum of Canada


Video Transcript

[Narrator - Donovan Bailey with images of basketball players at net, Harry Jerome running, Bill Crothers and Harry Jerome with medals, Pan American Games program and medal from 1967, athletes running, lifting weights, swimmers Graham and Beckie Smith and athletes on the podium.]

First held in 1951, the Pan American Games united athletes from North, Central, and South America, as well as the Caribbean under the motto "American Espirito Sport Fraternity", the American spirit of friendship through sports. A multi-sport event held every four years the Pan American Games improve opportunities for athletes in the western hemisphere to participate in high caliber international competition between Olympic Games. Canada first hosted the Pan American Games in Winnipeg in 1967. Hailed as the largest multi-sport event ever held in Canada, the 1967 Pan American Games also coincided with the unprecedented outpouring of national pride, confidence, and unity inspired by Canadian centennial celebrations.

[Images of Harry Jerome in suit, running, footage of Harry Jerome at the 200m race, images of Jerome sitting down, footage of Harry Jerome competing at the 1967 Pan American Games showing his win, image of Harry Jerome with his track shoes.]

Sprinter Harry Jerome was celebrated as one the most inspiring Canadian heroes of the 1967 Pan American Games. When he was only eighteen, Jerome broke a Canadian record in the 220-yard event that stood for thirty-one years held by the nation's last great sprinter Percy Williams. He quickly followed up by matching the world record in the 100m race. At the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Jerome suffered a severe injury to his left quadricep tendon that required surgery. Bitterly disappointed, the press failed to understand his reasons for bowing out of the 220-yard race at the Commonwealth Games. Coping with the emotional adversity in the form of negative publicity as well as devastating physical injury, Jerome quietly resolved to prove them wrong. Jerome's redemption on home soil finally came at the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg when he captured gold in the 100m race. To win the close race, Jerome lunged forward at the last moment tumbling towards the finish line before falling to the ground. Jerome remained down for one heartrending moment before he resolutely got back up again. In the end, adversity made Harry Jerome stronger and more determined and his motto quickly became "never give up".

[Image of fans in stadium, Aboriginal athletes, delegates at the podium, athletes running and fans.]

Thirty-two years passed before Canada hosted the Pan American Games for a second time in 1999. As part of these Games, Indigenous athletes from the 1967 torch relay team were honoured at the opening ceremonies by carrying the torch into Winnipeg stadium in front of the cheering crowd. In 1967, many of these runners had ran 500 miles between Minnesota to Winnipeg and had been selected to represent their communities at the opening ceremonies of the Pan American Games. However, when the young Indigenous runners arrived in Winnipeg to run the torch to the stadium, they were taken to watch the festivities on television while the Pan American cauldron was lit by an Anglo-Canadian runner. At the 1999 Games an official apology was issued by the Government of Manitoba.

[Images of Alison Sydor cycling, holding medal, 2015 Pan American Games mascot Pachi with youth performing in background, Team Canada entering stadium in 2015, women's baseball, rugby and kayak slalom from 2015, Andre De Grasse running.]

Among the most inspiring Canadian athletes to compete at the 1999 Pan American Games was cyclist Alison Sydor. She won a silver medal in the women's mountain bike race. Integrity was always at the heart of Sydor's commitment to sport and she achieved remarkable longevity as a cyclist by respecting the rules of fair play in every race that she participated in.

[Images of Andre De Grasse with Canadian flag, running in race at the Pan Am Games, action shot of De Grasse running and with gold medal, images of 2015 Para Pan American Games of athletes entering the stadium, lighting torches, weightlifting, wheelchair volleyball and wheelchair rugby.]

Canada hosted the Pan American Games for a third time in 2015. Competing in Toronto, Canadian athletes dominated many new events winning seven medals in women's baseball, women's rugby, and kayak slalom. The most exciting Canadian heroes of the 2015 Pan American Games were young athletes who seized the international competition as an opportunity to show their potential to the world.

Twenty year old sprinter Andre De Grasse from Markham, Ontario electrified spectators when he captured gold in the 100m and setting a new Canadian record in the 200m sprint. Running six races in only three days, De Grasse credited the support, encouragement, and energy of the home crowd for helping him fight through fatigue.

Alongside many other dynamic young competitors who broke records and ascended the podium in 2015, he helped carry forward a legacy of athletic excellence and integrity that helped the Pan American Games capture the imagination of Canadians on home soil. Twenty-fifteen also marked the first time Parapan American Games for disabled athletes were held in Canada and spectators were especially thrilled by the intense caliber of competition in fast-paced sports like wheelchair rugby.

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