Étienne Desmarteau

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Étienne Desmarteau
Etienne Desmarteau-2.jpg
Personal information
Full name Joseph-Étienne Desmarteau (Birtz-)[1]
Born (1873-02-04)4 February 1873[1]
Boucherville, Quebec
Died 29 October 1905(1905-10-29) (aged 32)
Montreal, Québec
Height 185 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 94 kg (207 lb)

Étienne Desmarteau (4 February 1873 – 29 October 1905)[2] was a Canadian athlete, winner of the weight throwing event at the 1904 Summer Olympics.


Born in Boucherville, Quebec, Desmarteau was member of the Montréal Athletic Club[2][3] 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.[2][3] 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.[2]

Desmarteau received a hero's welcome back in Montréal and was rehired as a police officer.[2] The following year, he died, possibly of typhoid fever.[3]

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.[2]

It is contended that Desmarteau was the first Olympic Games champion from Canada, although 1900 Summer Olympics champion George Orton, who ran for an American university, was also Canadian.[2][3]


  1. ^ a b "Étienne Desmarteau". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sanfaçon, Gaétan (2000). "DESMARTEAU, ÉTIENNE". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Leyshon, Glynn (1994). "Étienne Desmarteau. Canada's First Olympic Gold Medallist" (PDF). Journal of Olympic History. 2 (1): 21–25.