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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

BILL CROTHERS

Inducted in 1971

Member Details

Date of Birth: December 24, 1940
Place of Birth: Markham, Ontario
Sport: Athletics
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1961-1965

National Senior Champion in 440-yard and 880-yard events

1963

Posted two fastest 880-yard times in the world

Lou Marsh Trophy

 

1964

Tokyo Olympic Games - Silver medalist in 800m

Lionel Conacher Trophy

1965

Inducted to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame

1966

Commonwealth Games Silver medalist in 800 and 4x400m events

Honoured Member BILL CROTHERS
Inspire

Story

As he taped his glasses to his head to make sure he could see at all times of a race, so, too, did Bill Crothers maintain a clear vision on what was right and wrong in the sports world. He never wavered from his view that sports should always and only be an avocation-this from a man who, in 1965, was the best half miler in the world and who devoted his life to running. More to the point, his life was devoted to the cause of amateur sport, the necessity for it to be of equal opportunity for every Canadian, but as an extension of life, not life itself. For this reason, he was a highly visible athlete on and off the track. Entering high school as the smallest kid in his class, (standing less than 5' and weighing less than 90 pounds) Crothers started running seriously at the age of 15 and quickly developed under the tutelage of Fred Foote, the coach of the East York Track Club. From 1961 through 1968, Crothers competed regularly, both indoors and outdoors, leading the field at 440-yard, and 880-yard events. At one time, he held all the national records from the 440m to the 1,500m. At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, he set an Olympic record in the half-mile, winning the silver medal. Gold went to the great New Zealander Peter Snell with whom Crothers had an intense and friendly rivalry for three years starting in 1962 when Snell beat him at the Commonwealth Games. The following year in a half-mile race at a meet at Varsity Stadium in Toronto, (now some 6' tall and weighing in at 155 pounds), Crothers slipped between two runners without touching them or losing pace, kept the leader's pace, and then broke away to beat his rival Snell, thereby becoming the undisputed world champion - a title he kept again from Snell the next month in Oslo. Crothers won the prestigious Lou Marsh Award in 1963 and the distinguished Lionel Conacher Trophy in 1964. During these years, he also used his scholarship to study pharmacy at the University of Toronto, graduating with his Bsc Ph. During the late 1960s, Crothers spoke out against amateur Canadian athletes going to training camps in the United States, suggesting that four-season training was a better foundation and that it was critical for Canadians to reach international standards at home. He spoke out on his reservations about government involvement in sport which he felt contributed to a "professionalization" of staff and coaching which, in turn, was leading to sport no longer being an extension of an athlete's life. His concern was that athletes soon enough learned not to make real sacrifices to accommodate sport in their life and, as a result, would not leave sports as strong competitors with strong character. Crothers was equally known for his stance on drugs in sport and for his role in the "Percival Affair" during which he instigated an investigation into national coach Lloyd Percival's alleged distribution of amphetamines to young athletes. His concern, as a pharmacist, was that these drugs would cause long-term health problems for athletes. (Percival, after a bitter two-year dispute among the provincial and national track and field associations, was cleared of all charges.)


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