George Orton

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George Orton
George Orton.jpg
Personal information
Full name George Washington F. Orton[1]
Born January 10, 1873
Strathroy, Ontario, Canada
Died June 25, 1958 (age 85)[1]
Laconia, New Hampshire, United States
Height 5 ft 6 12 in (169 cm)
Weight 143 lb (65 kg)
Sport Running
Updated on 5 July 2015.

George Washington Orton (January 10, 1873 – June 26, 1958) was a Canadian middle-distance runner. In 1900, he became the first Canadian to win a medal at an Olympic Games (in steeplechase), then won another in the hurdles.[1]


Born in Strathroy, Ontario, Orton was paralysed when he fell out of a tree when a child.[2] He regained his mobility at age twelve.[2] Orton did his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, before switching to the University of Pennsylvania in 1893. By then, he was already one of the top middle-distance runners in North America. He won national titles in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, in the one-mile, two-mile and steeplechase distances. Orton's one-mile time of 4:21.8 in 1892 stood as a Canadian record for 30 years. His total number of wins is reported to be 121.

Orton received his Ph.D. in 1896, but remained active in his sport. The crowning achievement of Orton's career was the 1900 Summer Olympics, held in Paris. Orton competed in three events: two steeplechase competitions and the 400m hurdles. He won the gold medal in the 2500m steeplechase and later won a bronze medal in the 400m hurdles—collecting all of the medals won by Canada at the games. He placed fifth in the 4000m steeplechase.

Orton was a very good soccer player and also played hockey (on the Quaker City Hockey Club) and cricket during his time in Philadelphia. While attending the University of Toronto he played soccer for the 'Varsity' team in the Toronto Football League and was chosen for the Toronto all-star team that played an all-star team from the New England states on June 14, 1891. In 1910 he played centre half for the Philadelphia all-stars against the New York all-stars In Haverford, Pennsylvania, and in 1923, at the age of 50 was playing soccer for Merchantville in the Philadelphia league. He was a member of the Merion and Belmont Cricket Clubs of Philadelphia, the New York Athletic Club, the Pennsylvania Athletic Club, the University of Pennsylvania Track Club and a former secretary of the Rose Tree Fox Hunting Club of Media, Pa. Orton was also a member of the American Academy of Poets.

Later, Orton was a track coach at Penn, taking over after the death of Mike Murphy, and wrote a book about the track and field history of that university. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. Orton died at age 85 in Meredith, New Hampshire. His other books included the Bob Hunt series aimed at young men or boys and relied on his knowledge of athletics.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "George Orton". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Wallechinsky, David (2012). The Book Of Olympic Lists. Great Britain: Aurum Press Ltd. p. 300. ISBN 9781845137731. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-23. Retrieved 2014-12-23.  accessed 22 December 2014


Obituary in the newspaper in Lewiston, Maine, June 26, 1958 Game report in the Toronto Mail, June 15, 1891 Game report in the New York Times, December 18, 1910

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