Once upon a time–back in the early years of the turbulent 1960s–Harry Jerome was one of the most famous Canadians on the planet.
Jerome was “The World’s Fastest Human,” an unofficial title bestowed by pundits and sportswriters that went to the holder of the fastest time of the 100-metre dash.
In fact, at one point, Jerome not only held the 100-metre title but the 100-yard title as well.
At the same time.
Returning from serious injury, he won a bronze medal in the 100 metres at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Through the course of his career, Jerome set seven world records and won gold at both the 1966 British Empire Games and the 1967 Pan American Games.
Jerome, whose family moved to Vancouver from Saskatchewan when he was 12, later became a teacher, a civil servant and an activist, and through it all, at least in his public appearances remained humble and modest.
Rightly, Jerome has been honoured many times over.
Among other things, he’s was an Officer of Order of Canada, he had a full-length National Film Board movie made about him, there’s a sports complex named after him and a track meet in his name in British Columbia
Now, he is being honoured again.
As the CBC’s Karin Larsen reports, a refurbished track coming to West Vancouver Secondary School will be called the Harry Jerome Oval.
“The Harry Jerome Oval will personify who he was. It will personify young people coming and developing themselves, and learning that when they fall, they can get up and try again,” said Harry Jerome’s sister and former Olympic track athlete Valerie Jerome in a video earlier this month, announcing the project.
“The Harry Jerome Oval,” Larsen writes, “will join the growing family of Harry Jerome namesakes, including the Harry Jerome Community Centre in North Vancouver, the Harry Jerome Sports Centre in Burnaby, the Harry Jerome International Track Classic at Swangard Stadium, the Harry Jerome Indoor Games at the Richmond Oval, the Harry Jerome Track and Field Stadium in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, the Harry Jerome Weight Room at the University of Oregon and the Harry Jerome Awards, recognizing achievement in the Canadian Black business community.”
Jerome died in 1982 at age 42 from a brain aneurysm.
(A portfolio of Jerome photos, as well as photos of one of his legacies, the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic, can be found here.)
With files from CBC News (Karin Larsen)