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Discover Vancouver’s Monument to Speed: Harry Jerome Immortalized in Stanley Park

Harry Jerome

The pride of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan is immortalized in Vancouver’s skyline. I’ll show you who he is:

In This Vancouver Article You Will Discover:

  • Where to Find One Of Vancouver’s Signature Landmarks
  • Who Harry Jerome Is, and What He Accomplished

Every visitor to Vancouver’s Stanley Park has seen it: a bronze sculpture of an athlete in his prime, seemingly bursting off the pedestal. His arms shoot back, his head forward — the pose of a champion sprinter. The memorial is a remarkable silhouette, photographed by many, and an integral stop along Stanley Park’s 9.2-km sea wall.

Fewer visitors, though, have stopped to read the plaque beneath the statue, and fewer still understand who Harry Winston Jerome was, and the role he played not only in Canadian sports, but on the international stage as well.

Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on September 30, 1940, Jerome came to Vancouver with his family at the age of 12. A gifted athlete even at a young age, he excelled at baseball, football and, like any good Prairie-born boy, hockey. However, it was running where he truly shone. At the age of 18, while still in high school, Jerome broke the Canadian record in the 220-yard sprint — held for 31 years by Percy Williams. Thanks in part to this achievement, he earned a track scholarship to the University of Oregon, where he set his first of many world records by running the 100-yard dash in a mere 9.2 seconds. In 1960, he set the world record for the 100-metre sprint, with a time of 10 seconds flat. Both a scholar and an athlete, Jerome also earned his master’s degree in Oregon, although he chose to return to Canada to star on the Canadian Olympic Team. However, problems would begin to surface for the runner.

With nagging injuries, Jerome was sidelined during two qualifying heats in the 1960 Olympic Summer Games in Rome. Two years later, at the Commonwealth Games, a torn thigh muscle sidelined him for a year. Some thought Jerome would never compete again. But in the way great athletes will do, he proved the naysayers wrong with a stunning comeback.

Jerome took home a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, remarkable considering his time off from training. He then returned to North America where he was part of a world-record-setting 4×110 relay team (40 seconds) and then set a solo world record by running the 60-yard dash in six seconds. Two years later, he beat his own world record in the 100-yard dash by shaving one-tenth of a second of the previous time, and brought home a gold and the Commonwealth Games, then again a year later at the PanAm Games.

He would truly live up to his simple personal motto: “Never give up.”

While he never took home Olympic Gold, his 100-metre sprint record of 10 seconds held until the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, and Jerome stayed a ferocious international competitor for more than 10 years — in a sport that usual sees its participants retiring in half that time. He closed out his professional career with six world records to his name.

In 1971, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his work in encouraging youngsters to strive for excellence. Eleven years later, Canada and the world lost Harry Winston Jerome to a brain aneurysm.

Shortly after his death, the Harry Jerome Society was formed to continue his work in promoting Canadian sport, and 10 years after that, his hometown built the Harry Jerome Track for the 1992 Saskatchewan Summer Games. In 1997, BC honoured their homegrown hero with the Harry Jerome Sports Centre. In 2001, Jerome was inducted in Canada’s Walk of Fame for his inspirational example and tireless efforts to encourage other young Canadians to achieve their dreams.

Now, 25 years after his passing, he can be remembered and honoured by a visit to his memorial statue, an interesting piece of Canadiana and an integral part of the Vancouver skyline.

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Resources:

Tourism Vancouver: www.tourismvancouver.com

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

3 comments… add one
  • David Webb May 23, 2010

    Hi, the statue was built for Expo ’86, then placed in Stanley Park afterward. Thanks for reading!

  • Marie Wilson May 22, 2010

    Good article. Do you know when the statue went up?

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