Archives: Sprinter Harry Jerome sets new Canadian record

This day in Vancouver history: May 27, 1959

Eighteen-year-old Harry Jerome set a new Canadian record at Empire Stadium in the 220-yard dash after shaving 0.1 of a second off a record set 31 years earlier by double Olympic gold medallist and fellow Vancouverite Percy Williams. Jerome hit the finish line in 21.9 seconds at an inter-high school meet, beating Williams' time of 22.0.

Jerome added the first of his seven Canadian titles later that same year. He also went on to win gold at the Pan Am Games and Commonwealth Games as well as a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, just two years after a torn thigh muscle at the British Empire Games in Australia, almost ended his career, before retiring after the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, where he came in seventh place in the 100-metre.

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Jerome died of a brain aneurysm at age 42 in 1982. Two years later, the Labatts International Track Classic Pre-Olympic meet at Swangard Stadium was renamed the Harry Jerome International Track Classic, and his name also lives on through North Vancouver’s Harry Jerome Arena near the high school he attended, the Harry Jerome Sports Centre in Burnaby, a track and field stadium in his former hometown of Prince Albert, Sask., and the annual Harry Jerome Awards in Toronto that honour achievements by black Canadians in sports. There's also a three-metre tall bronze statue of him running near the Seawall in Stanley Park, and he was the subject of a filmmaker Charles Officer’s 2010 documentary Mighty Jerome.


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