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HISTORY: Plaque planned for track star Sam Richardson (May 2019)

May 28th, 2019 · No Comments

CTS track star student attended Berlin Olympics on behalf of Canada

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. PHOTO COURTESY CENTRAL TECHNICAL SCHOOL ARCHIVES

By Nabahat Hussain

Alumni of Central Technical School (CTS) are raising funds for a plaque commemorating the late Sam Richardson. The former student came in 5th place in the 4×100 metre relay race alongside his teammates in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The heritage plaque in his honour will be placed in front of the high school while plans for a new scholarship in Richardson’s name are underway.

Richardson attended Lord Lansdowne, King Edward, and Central Technical schools. At the age of 10, he set his first record, jumping a length of 7 feet 6 inches. As a 13-year-old, he set the Canadian outdoor long jump record of 24 feet 11 inches. That record was not broken until 1965. 

As a 15-year-old, Richardson joined Canada’s Olympic team and set off for the Berlin Olympics. 

The ruling Nazi party banned German Jews from participating in the games and saw them as an opportunity to promote their propaganda of racial superiority. While black athletes were not banned, their participation in the games was certainly not welcomed. US track and field star Jesse Owens smashed any claims to Aryan racial supremacy by winning four gold medals at the games. He also mentored his young African-Canadian rival, Sam Richardson.

Last February, CTS renamed the street facing the establishment Sam Richardson Way. The Ontario Black History Society supported the event as Richardson’s family, friends, and fans attended the opening on Feb. 15, 2018. Having attended the secondary school in his youth and been a part of the track and field team, Richardson would often go back with his son and practise the sport. Richardson passed away in 1989, but his memory lives on today and his accomplishments are continually celebrated by the Central Technical School Alumni Association.  

Fernanda Pisini, a representative from the CTS Alumni Association, says the plaque to be made in Richardson’s honour will cost $3,500. 

“We want people to know that the plaque is part of bringing awareness and pride not just at Central Tech but also to the community as a whole, because it’s a big part of Toronto history,” Pisani says. “Also we want to bring awareness to athletes who competed in circumstances that were quite adverse, but who succeeded despite the odds.” 

In regard to their plans for a scholarship, she says the school wants to build a legacy for Sam Richardson in order to contribute to the education of future students. 

“If we could get a bursary together that would be fantastic, if we could get an on-going endowment or a scholarship that would be even better,” she says. The CTS Alumni Association expressed their belief that Sam Richardson’s legacy deserves some long overdue recognition and praise.

The school aims to have the plaque ready by autumn 2019. Assistance in funding it in the form of donations is welcome. Online donations can be made at www.ctsalumni.ca or by mail in the form of a cheque to the school at 160 Springhurst Ave., Suite 208, Toronto, ON M6K 1C2.

READ MORE:

HISTORY: Remembering an unsung hero (March 2018)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: An inspiration to us all (AUGUST 2017)

NEWS: Remembering an unsung hero (JULY 2017)

Tags: Annex · History