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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JAMES ELDER

Inducted in 1968

Member Details

Date of Birth: July 27, 1934
Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario
Sport: Equestrian
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1956

Melbourne Olympic Games - Team Bronze medal

1968

Mexico City Olympic Games - Team Gold medal

1970

Team won World Championship in France

1971

Pan-Am Games - Team Gold medal

Honoured Member JAMES ELDER
Inspire

Story

For James Elder, horse riding was not just a sport—it was a lifetime passion. Over the course of his 36-year career, Elder won numerous medals on the show-jumping course and brought international recognition to the Canadian equestrian team. A member of the national team from 1950-84, Elder was a key player at eight Olympics and seven Pan-American Games. His team won bronze in the three-day event at the 1956 Olympics and gold in the same event at the 1959 Pan-Am Games in Chicago. With James Day and Tom Gayford, Elder led the Canadian show-jumping team to glory in the late 1960s and early '70s. After winning bronze at the 1967 Pan-Am Games, they shocked the world by claiming gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. This spectacular victory in a sport traditionally dominated by Europeans was passed off as a mere fluke by the equestrian world. Elder and his teammates proved that hypothesis incorrect, however, when they won gold at the 1970 World Championships in France. They followed this victory with another team gold medal at the 1971 Pan-Am Games. Elder was still a driving force on the national team when it claimed the gold medal at the Nations Cup in Rotterdam in 1980. At the 1982 Pan-Am Games, he claimed both the individual and the team silver. Elder was known for his ability to turn sub-standard horses into winners. While he rode fine steeds such as Immigrant and Pieces of Eight, some of his greatest victories were achieved atop second-rate mounts. Elder was not only a champion rider but a successful businessman and a dedicated humanitarian. When not on the show-jumping course, he ran a refrigeration company and dedicated what little spare time he had to charity organizations such as Big Brothers and the Canadian Association of Riding for the Disabled. For his incredible contribution to Canadian sport and community, Elder was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983.


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