Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

Ned Hanlan

Edward "Ned" Hanlan loved to taunt and tease his opponents by allowing them to catch up to him and then in a burst of speed, he would pull away and win rather easily.

In an era when hockey, football and baseball enjoyed no sportspeak in Canadian society, Hanlan was this nation’s first true sports icon, the finest single sculler this country ever produced and quite likely the best the world has ever known. In 1873, Hanlan beat two better known scullers in Sam Williams and William McKay to capture the championship of Toronto Bay. In 1874, the Hanlan Club of sponsors helped him to arrange competition contracts and constructed a scull for him with a sliding seat that became his trademark. The seat slid over runners on its own layer of grease. It would simply slide back and forth. Despite his 5-foot-9, 150-pound frame, Hanlan brushed aside his opposition with stamina buoyed by smooth, long-looping strokes. On Oct. 15, 1877, he beat Wallace Ross of New Brunswick to win the Canadian title in Toronto and in 1879, Hanlan won both the Championship of America and the Championship of England.

Next in line for Hanlan was the world championship set for Nov. 15, 1880 on the River Thames. His opponent was Australian Edward Trickett. It appeared to be a bit of a mismatch because Trickett was much bigger and stronger at over 200 pounds. But on a course of about four and a half miles as about 100,000 watched from the shoreline, Hanlan won in a record time of 26 minutes, 12 seconds.

Hanlan successfully defended his world crown time and time again until he was finally beaten in 1884 by Australian William Beach. His last competitive race was in 1897 at age 42. In retirement, Hanlan entered politics in Toronto and was elected as Ward 4 alderman in both 1898 and 1899. When Hanlan died of couldn’t-be-treated pneumonia on Jan. 4, 1908 at age 52, he was accorded a civic funeral which attracted 155 carriages and some 10,000 mourners.

Hanlan liked to be known as the Boy in Blue and a movie of that name was produced in 1984 with Nicholas Cage in the lead role. Canadian actress Cynthia Dale played Hanlan’s wife. In 2004 Hanlan's monument at Hanlan's Point was rededicated in a City of Toronto ceremony.

Published in 2002 Inductees
Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:00

Silken Laumann

Silken Suzette Laumann, MSC (born November 14, 1964 in Mississauga, Ontario) is a Canadian champion rower.

Starting in 1976, Laumann won a number of awards, including a gold medal in quadruple sculls at the U.S. Championships, two gold medals in single sculls at the Pan American Games, a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics in the double sculls with her sister Daniele. At the 1988 Olympics, Laumann finished seventh in the double scull. Laumann won a silver medal in single sculls at the 1990 World Championships, and the gold medal at the following year's World Championships.

Arguably the most famous incident in Laumann's life was during her training leading up to the 1992 Summer Olympics. One of the odds-on favourites to capture a gold medal, her shell was involved in a collision with the boat of German coxless pair team Colin von Ettinghausen and Peter Hoeltzenbein on May 15, 1992. Despite serious injuries to her leg (in her words, "I looked at the leg for a few seconds and knew it was serious when my muscle was hanging at my ankle and I could see the bone"), five operations and a total stay in the hospital of approximately three weeks, Laumann was back on the water training by late June. Her efforts paid off with a bronze medal, and she was subsequently named Canadian of the Year by the Canadian Club in recognition and was selected to carry the Canadian Flag in the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

After a one-year absence to allow the injury to further heal, Laumann resumed competing in 1994, and she won a silver at the 1995 World Championships. She also won a gold medal as part of a quad sculls team at the 1995 Pan American Games, but was subsequently stripped of the medals after testing positive for pseudoephedrine (which she claimed to have accidentally ingested due to a mix-up in what cold medicine she could safely use). Her final competitive race was at the 1996 Summer Olympics, where Silken won a silver medal in single sculls. She formally announced her retirement three years later.

Laumann was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and was awarded the Thomas Keller Medal in 1999 for her outstanding international rowing career. She now lives in Victoria, British Columbia and is a sought after public speaker.

Published in 2004 Inductees