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NEWS: Unveiling ceremony in honour of Sam Richardson (April 2023)

August 8th, 2023 · No Comments

Central Tech student competed at 1936 Berlin Olympics

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, he proudly represented his nation while facing the institutionalized racism of Nazi Germany. PHOTO COURTESY CENTRAL TECHNICAL SCHOOL ARCHIVES

By Hailey Alexander

On May 11, Central Technical School (CTS) will hold an unveiling ceremony in honour of Olympian and CTS alumnus Sam Richardson. This event celebrates the installation of Richardson’s plaque on the school ground’s south lawn which faces Harbord Street and is east of Bathurst Street.

While still a student at CTS, Richardson competed at the 1934 British Empire Games where he won a gold medal in long jump and a silver medal in triple jump, all the while being one of the youngest competitors. 

The following year, he set a national long jump record that stood for several decades. 

In the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, he participated in the 4×100 metre relay event in which the Canadian team finished fifth. He raced against Jesse Owens who won four golds at those games. Richardson and Owens, fellow athletes of African descent, went on to become lifelong friends.

Fernanda Pisani of the CTS Alumni Association describes Richardson’s participation in the 1936 Berlin Olympics as “controversial” within the Black community because  people saw his attendance as “enabling” and “supportive” of Germany’s racist policies. 

However, with the support of his family and school, Richardson took a stand for the inclusion of Black athletes. “I don’t know if that was really on Sam’s mind,” Pisani said. “The sense we get is that he did what he knew, and he did it very, very well.” 

In 1936, Germany wanted their Olympic Games to be a class act so they would be regarded with respect. This established many Olympic traditions including the opening and closing ceremonies. 

“A lot of that ceremony script started at the Berlin Olympic Games,” Pisani said.  “Without athletes like Sam Richardson and Jesse Owens, racism in relation to the Olympic Games may not have been as fought against.”

In reaction to his athletic accomplishments, several universities offered Richardson scholarships to support his studies. 

He chose not to pursue a post-secondary education due to family responsibilities, as stated by CTS. 

The plaque states that Richardson retired from sport in 1937 and worked in carpentry on television sets for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also mentored young athletes, participated in the Harry Jerome Awards, and toured with the Canadian heavyweight boxer George Chuvalo. 

Since Richardson’s passing in 1989, CTS has taken steps to commemorate his legacy. The school provided bursaries to two graduates at the 2020 CTS commencement ceremony, and it would like to raise funds so these bursaries could be awarded on an ongoing basis. One of the bursaries went to a student athlete while the other was awarded to a trade student in honour of Richardson’s multiple talents. Pisani said she hopes and trusts that CTS’s acknowledgement of Sam Richardson continues beyond his plaque. 

In addition to Sam Richardson Way, a path in front of the school that connects Lippincott Street, CTS plans to plant a garden surrounding Richardson’s plaque. 


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