Our Olympians

olympians.jpgOur Olympians

Inducted February 6, 2010


With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games coming to Vancouver the Comox Valley Walk of Achievement chose to honour 17 past Olympians who were born or live in the Comox Valley. Working with the Comox Valley Spirit of BC Community Committee these individuals were identified and 10 were able to attend the induction ceremony held Saturday, February 6 in Courtenay, BC.

The induction ceremony began with a parade down 5th Street from Fitzgerald Avenue and up Cliffe Avenue to the Museum for the formal presentations. 10 of the Olympians were able to attend, carrying signs in the parade signifying which Olympics they were in and what event they participated in. Local high school athletes carried signs
for the Olympians that could not attend.
The parade was also attended by a pipe band, local dignitaries and a police escort.

As well as having their plaque placed on Fifth Street the Olympians also have a Commemorative Plaque in the Comox Valley Sports Centre. Olympians post 2010 continue to be added to this plaque.

The Comox Valley Olympians include:

Dick McClureRowingMelbourne, 1956
Terry Tobacco Track Melbourne, 1956  |  Rome, 1960
Jay DahlgrenTrack & FieldMexico City, 1968
John Hawkins Track & Field Munich, 1972
Edgar SmithRowingMunich, 1972  |  Montreal, 1976
Tom Graham Volleyball Montreal, 1976
Cheryl HowardRowingMontreal, 1976
Tom Howard Track Montreal, 1976
Susan KelseySwimmingMontreal, 1976
Patty Loverock Track Montreal, 1976
Rhonda RossRowingMontreal, 1976
Don Irvine Canoeing Los Angeles, 1984
Glenn RupertusBiathlonCalgary, 1988  |  Albertville, 1992  |  Lillehammer, 1994
Lindsay Sparkes Curling Calgary, 1988
Kiara BisaroMountain BikeGreece, 2004
Tom Herschmiller Rowing Greece, 2004
Geoff KabushMountain BikeSydney, 2000  |  Bejing, 2008  |  London, 2012
Cam Levins Runner London, 2012

This talented group of athletes, several of whom continue to compete or coach in their respective sports, have also amassed medals while representing Canada at other international events such as the Commonwealth Games and World Championships. Many have been inducted into Sports Halls of Fame, such as Dick McClure and john Hawkins at UBC.

During the ceremony held at the Courtenay District Museum Olympians shared their stories with those in attendance. Lindsay Sparkes was on the Gold Medal Women’s Curling Team, but curling was a demonstration sport at those games. Edgar Smith and John Hawkins witnessed the hostage taking in Munich where eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were killed. Edgar’s recounting of this experience was very emotional.

At some point in their early lives, these athletes were willing to give up all other activities to compete. If they were in high school, the lure of hanging out with friends was exchanged for an early night in bed so they could rise for a 6am practice in the pool. They sought out the best training possible, often having to leave their small town in rural Canada to move in with a family in a larger centre, or even move to the United States for studies so they could have the coaching required for a level of competition which could lead them to a chosen Olympic Committee.

Training became all important because sometimes “ a hair’s breadth” can make all the difference in attaining their goal. They did what had to be done to be able to wear the coveted red and white uniform of a Canadian Olympic team member. Whether or not they achieved Gold, they had risen to the highest standard of their sport.

And they gave back to their sport and to their community. The public is not aware that on the Courtenay River, near the Airpark, Olympians are training young rowers. Others help to coach the swim team. Some have chosen to become school teachers to coach students before they develop bad habits. If any of these athletes are asked why they give so much time they will tell you they love their sport.

There is another reason why they volunteer their time. They recognize it is a way to acknowledge all the people who supported them when they wanted to achieve their goals. Without parents and coaches who sacrificed so much for them they could not have become Canada’s best. One Olympian said, “We give back to the community because we know for us to achieve success we needed trainers to guide us along our way.”

We'd like to acknowledge the Comox Valley Echo (Judy Hagen, Hunt For History) and the Comox Valley Record for their research and articles about these Comox Valley Walk of Achievement Honourees.

Special thanks to Bruce McPhee
 whose support enabled us to create this website and the Honouree signage along Fifth Street in Courtenay, BC.