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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

LINDA THOM

Inducted in 1992

Member Details

Date of Birth: December 30, 1943
Place of Birth: Hamilton, Ontario
Sport: Shooting - Pistol
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1970-75, 82-83

Canadian national women's pistol champion

1973

Championship of the Americas, gold medals - ladies air pistol and ladies match pistol

1984

Los Angeles Olympic Games, gold medal - women’s 25m sport pistol

Velma Springstead Award - Canada's outstanding female athlete

1985

Named to the Order of Canada

Honoured Member LINDA THOM
Inspire

Story

Her credentials as a Cordon Bleu chef and the pleasure she takes in being a mother might lead one to make some very stereotypical assumptions about Linda Thom. But the first ever woman to win an Olympic pistol gold medal and the longtime advocate for women's athletic opportunities spent her entire sporting career confounding stereotypes. Although born in Hamilton, Thom was raised in Ottawa, the daughter of a Bisley rifle competitor. Soon enough, she, too, began entering rifle competitions. In 1969, she turned to pistol shooting and quickly established herself in competitive shooting. Thom won the first of six consecutive national women's pistol championships in 1970 and was a member of the Canadian team at the quadrennial world championships. She also competed at the 1974 and 1982 world championships. At the 1970 world championships, she finished sixth in ladies air pistol and ninth in each of ladies match pistol (now sport pistol) and ladies standard pistol (no longer an international event for women). In 1973, Thom competed in the inaugural Championship of the Americans, winning both the ladies air pistol and ladies match pistol events. From 1972 to 1975, Thom and her husband lived in Paris. During this time, she took courses at the famed Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. Upon her return to Canada, she continued her culinary training and began a catering business while also raising a family. Thom's sporting career was in abeyance between 1976 and 1982. All that changed in March 1982, when the IOC announced that women's pistol events would be included on the Olympic programme for the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Thom came out of retirement with Olympic gold as her goal. She trained rigorously, competed around the world, and demonstrated a remarkable return to form. She reclaimed the Canadian championship in 1982 and successfully defended it in 1983. At the 1983 Pan-American Games in Caracas, Thom won a silver and bronze medal. She won gold at the Zurich International Matchweek in both 1983 and 1984, and at an international match in Cuba won a silver medal after a dramatic shoot-off with the Soviet world record holder by making fifteen consecutive bull's-eyes. On the opening day of the Los Angeles Games, Thom fulfilled her Olympic dream. She scored 13 bull's-eyes with her 15 shots and when her 15th shot came closer to the target than that of American Ruby Fox, Thom claimed the first women's pistol gold medal in Olympic history. Not only that, Thom's victory was the first Canadian gold medal since 1968, the first for an individual athlete since 1956, and the first gold medal won by a Canadian woman since 1928. Thom's achievement was rewarded with the Velma Springstead Award as Canada's outstanding female athlete and, in 1985, she was made a member of the Order of Canada. Thom won another Canadian championship in 1985. She also began advocating for the Commonwealth Games to include women's events among the shooting competitions, challenging the stereotype that pistol shooting for women was "undignified or unseemly." Injuries, however, forced Thom to retire in 1987.


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