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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

DOUGLAS ANAKIN

Inducted in 1964

Member Details

Date of Birth: January 1, 1930
Place of Birth: Chatham, Ontario
Sport: Bobsleigh
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1964

Gold medal, Olympic Games

Honoured Member DOUGLAS ANAKIN
Inspire

Story

Many spectators thought it was a joke when a group of young Canadians showed up at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics ready to compete in the bobsled event. Canada didn't even have a training course, let alone a well developed bobsled program at the time. All it had were Victor Emery, John Emery, Peter Kirby, and Douglas Anakin, a group of determined young athletes who were ready to shock the world en route to the gold medal. Vic Emery fell in love with the sport after witnessing a bobsledding race at the 1956 Cortina Olympics. His passion quickly spread to his brother, John, and these two young Canadians started the Laurentian Bobsledding Association in 1957. In 1959, they entered their first team in the World Championships at Lake Placid, finishing 13th out of a possible 16 competitors. Undeterred, the Emerys and their teammates continued to compete each year, and, by 1962, they had moved their way up to fourth place. The team was forced to practice at Lake Placid, New York, as there was no course available in Canada. In fact, the Canadian Olympic Committee had refused to send a team to the 1960 Games, claiming there was no interest in bobsledding. Prior to the Innsbruck Olympics, they had to practice their starts in "dry" runs in a gymnasium and on their infrequent trips to Lake Placid. They had only four practice runs in Innsbruck itself, compared to the multiple runs of the Italians and Austrians who had been training there for weeks. Despite these less-than-ideal training conditions, Anakin, Kirby and the Emery brothers ran a fantastic course and became the first Canadians to win Olympic bobsledding gold. Canadian Sled No. 1 completed the 14-curve course in 1:04.01 on its final run (with a total time over four races of 4:14.46) to win the gold medal at the Austria Olympics in 1964, upsetting the heavily-favoured Italian team. These underdog bobsledders claimed Canada's only gold medal that year. To prove that their victory was no fluke, Vic Emery, Peter Kirby, and two new teammates led the Canadian team to victory once more the following year at the World Championships in St. Moritz. Before bobsledding, Peter Kirby was a seasoned skier. He won the Canadian Junior Alpine Skiing Championships in 1953, was a member of the Canadian F.I.S. team in 1954, and captained Dartmouth University's ski team in 1956. He and Vic Emery also formed a two-man bobsled team that finished fourth at the 1964 Olympic Games. The following year, Victor Emery and Peter Kirby set out to prove that their victory was no mere chance occurrence; as John Emery and Douglas Anakin were unable to join them, they recruited Gerald Presley and Michael Young to complete their team and contest for the World Championship title. At the 1965 World Championships in St. Moritz, the Canadians won three of their four runs at the Championships, claiming the top prize once more over the scoffing Europeans. In addition, Emery and Young claimed a bronze medal in the two-man event. Their gold medal victory was especially significant, for, as Vic Emery said, "You're not real champions unless you can do it a second time." Emery, Kirby, Presley, and Young confirmed that Canada was, indeed, a worthy contender in the world of bobsledding, and paved the way for the development of a national bobsledding program. Emery and Kirby had previously been inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1964 following their Olympic triumph, while Presley and Young joined them in 1965. At 5'7" and 150 pounds, Anakin, the smallest member of the team, was affectionately known as "Mickey Mouse" or the "Olympic Dorf Dwarf." He was an intercollegiate wrestler, expert skier, and keen mountain climber before discovering the bobsled track. A high school physical education teacher by profession, Anakin shared his athletic skill and his love of sport with his students.


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