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NEWS (JULY 2017): Remembering an unsung hero

August 1st, 2017 · 1 Comment

Central Tech student raced alongside Jesse Owens

PHOTO COURTESY CENTRAL TECHNICAL SCHOOL ARCHIVES: Sam Richardson passes the baton during the men’s 4×100 relay during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Like Jesse Owens, who became a friend, Richardson proudly represented his nation while facing the institutionalized racism of Nazi Germany.

By Justin Viviera

Long before Canadian legend Donovan Bailey took to the track, athlete Samuel “Sam” Richardson realized his own dream when he sprinted on the grandest field of them all at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

Competing against the likes of Jesse Owens (who became a friend), Richardson held his own, coming in fifth as a member of the men’s 4×100 metre relay team, and finished 14th and 20th in the long and triple long jumps. Like Owens, he proudly represented his nation while facing the institutionalized racism of Nazi Germany.

“If he raced alongside Jesse Owens that must have been a very special experience for him”—Ryan, Central Tech student

“I’ll always remember his grace and the feeling of pride once I found out who he was and what he accomplished,” said his son Stacey Richardson, 47. “When I think about him, I’m always revisited by the gratification I grew up with from my father and his accolades.”

A local boy, Sam Richardson was born on Nov. 18, 1919 to Franklin and Maria of 222 Lippincott St. He went to school at King Edward Public School, then Lord Lansdowne Public School, and finally Central Technical School. It was there that he spent hours training on the track,

“My father used to go out onto the field at Central Tech with a rugby ball, kick it up the length of the field, run the distance and catch the ball himself,” relates Stacey. “Apparently he would do that almost all day long. I was amazed by that story and it was a reminder of how great an athlete my father was.”

At 15, Richardson won the gold medal in long jump in London, England, at the 1934 British Empire Games, now known as the Commonwealth Games.

At that time, he was the youngest competitor to ever win a gold medal in track. A year later, he would set a Canadian record of 25 feet in long jump at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Winnipeg; a record that wouldn’t be broken for another 25 years. Between London and Berlin, he also represented Canada in France, New Zealand, and Australia.

After his athletic career, Richardson began his service at the CBC in 1955 where he worked as a stagehand crew leader on the hit comedy The Wayne and Shuster Show, which aired the same year he started, as well as the children’s television show Mr. Dressup.

It was thanks to a school project that Stacey got to know more about his dad.

“There was an assignment I was given in school to do some research on a Canadian athlete. My teacher was assigning different athletes and I had mentioned to my teacher that I knew of an athlete that wasn’t mentioned.

“I talked about my father and they allowed me to do my research project on him. It was something I felt proud of doing and that’s when I started to learn more about him. I felt special to be his son.”

Richardson was 51 when his son Stacey was born, and 70 when he passed away in 1989.

Some of the faculty and students at Central Tech, which recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, are aware of the handful of Olympians who got their start at the school: Atlee Mahorn, Carl Folkes, Anthony Wilson, and Keturah Anderson.

“There’s a display case and a Wall of Fame of alumni who’ve made it to the Olympics. I know there’s been quite a few runners that went to school here but I didn’t know he [Richardson] was one of the first,” said Ryan, a Central Tech student. “If he raced alongside Jesse Owens that must have been a very special experience for him.”

The CTS community is planning a tribute in honour of Richardson’s long-lasting legacy. “He was Toronto’s son,” said Stacey. “His unsung stories are a distant memory but will never be forgotten.”

 

READ MORE

ON OUR COVER: Celebrating the city’s third oldest school (April 2017)

FOCUS ON EDUCATION: A little Oola, a lot of Boola (April 2017)

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Harbord C.I. connects with history (April 2017)

CHATTER: Decade rooms, formal gala, and talent shows to mark Harbord Collegiate’s 125th anniversary (March 2017)

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: A long history of activism (February 2017)

NEWS: Celebrating pink at Harbord Collegiate Institute (May 2016)

Reflections on 32 years of service (August 2014)

 

Tags: Annex · News

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Sandi Soares // Aug 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    This is some pretty amazing stuff, Stacey! You spoke quite eloquently and proudly of your father in this article. He certainly was an accomplished athlete and a great Canadian. I’m proud of him and I’m proud of you. ?