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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

LELA BROOKS

Inducted in 1972

Member Details

Date of Birth: February 7, 1908
Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario
Date of Passing: September 11, 1990
Sport: (Builder)
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1924

By the end of the year had broken 6 world records

1926-27

28 championship awards, including 2 World Championship titles

1927

Set world record in one-mile (3:13.8)

1930

Broke half-mile world record at North American Championships

Honoured Member LELA BROOKS
Inspire

Story

Winning every possible title in women's speed skating, Lela Brooks was deservedly dubbed the "Queen of the Blades." Between 1923 and 1930, Brooks won more than 65 championships from the provincial to the world level and dominated every event from the 220-yard (200m) to the one-mile (1,600m) race. Brooks claimed her first titles in the girls under-18 category at the 1923 Ontario Championships with victories in the 440-yard (400m) and the one-mile events. Over the next eight years, the championship titles seemed to glide easily into her grasp, with four additional victories in 1924, 19 in 1925, and 28 between 1926 and 1927. By 1930, Brooks had broken numerous world records in the half-mile indoor, half-mile outdoor, three-quarter-mile outdoor, and one-mile events. Brooks competed in the 1932 Olympics, finishing fourth in her best race. She won the 440-yard event at the 1934 North American Indoor Championship and was points champion at the North American competition in 1935. She qualified for the 1936 Olympics but chose instead to settle down to a domestic life with her new husband. Lela Brooks accomplished these fantastic feats at a time when women's speed skating was not a well developed sport. There were no medals awarded at women's championship events, and women were often not permitted to join skating clubs. Brooks showed such talent on the ice that she was the first woman admitted to the Old Orchard Skating Club in Toronto. With no formal coach and no set training regime, the "Queen of Blades" fashioned her own crown out of talent, confidence, and perseverance and paved the way for future female athletes.


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