Competitor for Canada
|Gold||1904 St. Louis||56 pound weight throw|
Born in Boucherville, Quebec, Desmarteau was member of the Montréal Athletic Club was one of the top competitors in the 56 lb (25.4 kg) weight throwing event, which is no longer an Olympic event. In 1902 he had won the American AAU championships, beating John Flanagan. Flanagan broke the world record in the event prior to the 1904 Olympics, making him one of the favourites for the event along with Desmarteau.
To compete in the Olympics, Desmarteau, a police officer in Montréal, had to ask for a leave of absence to go to St. Louis, but he was denied by his employer. He decided to go anyway, which cost him his job. In St. Louis, his first throw was 34 ft 4 in (10.46 m), enough for victory over Flanagan, who did not manage better than a 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m) throw.
A district, a park and a sports arena in Montréal have been named after him; the Étienne Desmarteau Centre was used as a venue for basketball during the 1976 Summer Olympics. The District d'Étienne Desmarteau is part of the borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie.
- Sanfaçon, Gaétan (2000). "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online". University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Leyshon, Glynn (1994). "Étienne Desmarteau. Canada's First Olympic Gold Medallist". Journal of Olympic History 2 (1): 21–25.