Hall of Famer
Inducted in 1975
Amsterdam Olympic Games - Gold medal, single sculls, (competing for Australia)
Gold medal, single sculls, British Empire Games (competing for Australia)
Los Angeles Olympic Games - Gold medal, single sculls, (competing for Australia)
Lou Marsh Trophy
When Bobby Pearce first came to Canada, he was competing for his native Australia in the 1930 British Empire Games in Hamilton. Seeing more opportunities for employment on this side of the ocean, he decided to stay. As a result, Canada gained an athlete with an impressive international record and a bright competitive future in his adopted country. Pearce was a versatile athlete with a flare for football, baseball, hockey, and boxing, but rowing was in his blood. Both his father and grandfather were champion Australian scullers, and Pearce naturally followed in their wakes, as it were. At the 1928 Olympics, he claimed the gold medal in the single sculls in a record time of 7:01 over 2,000m. In 1930, he took gold once more at the British Empire Games. Once established as an Ontario resident, Pearce began rowing under the Canadian flag, bringing immediate success to his new country. In 1931, he won the Diamond Sculls at Henley-on-Thames, England, one of rowing's most prestigious prizes. Since he had previously appeared at the Olympics as an Australian, Pearce had to compete for his native country once more when he returned to the Games in 1932. He easily claimed the gold medal once again. In 1933, Pearce entered the professional rowing ranks when he was pitted against world champion Ted Phelps of England in a grueling match race at Toronto's C.N.E. Before a crowd of over 50,000 spectators, Pearce took the race by more than 400 yards to claim the world championship title. Pearce's victory was met with some controversy because the Sculling Board of Control in England, the controlling body of world professional rowing, had not sanctioned the race. But Pearce vanquished this claim and held fast to his world title when he beat all challengers the following year. With the onset of World War II, Pearce retired undefeated from professional competition and joined the Royal Canadian Navy. He served in a number of positions throughout the 1940s and '50s, including recruiting officer, liaison officer, and physical and recreational officer. He later worked in the advertising business. Over the course of his brilliant career, Pearce won every significant title in his sport, succumbing to defeat on only two occasions. He was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete in 1938 and finished second in the Canadian Press's vote for Canada's outstanding oarsman of the half-century. In 1970, though he had been living in Canada for nearly 40 years, his home country honoured him as Australia's top athlete of the previous 200 years.