Harry Jerome

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Harry Jerome
Personal information
Birth nameHenry Winston Jerome
Born(1940-09-30)September 30, 1940
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada
DiedDecember 7, 1982(1982-12-07) (aged 42)
North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Height5 ft 11 in (1.8 m)
SportTrack and field

Henry Winston Jerome OC (September 30, 1940 – December 7, 1982), known as Harry Jerome, was a Canadian school teacher and track and field runner who competed in three Olympic Games, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the Pan-American Games during the 1960s.

Jerome was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, the son of Harry Vincent Jerome and Elsie Ellen Howard, and moved to North Vancouver, British Columbia, at age 12. His grandfather was John Howard, a railway porter, who represented Canada in the 1912 Summer Olympics. His sister, Valerie Jerome, was also an Olympian who competed for Canada at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.[1]

Harry Jerome died of a brain aneurysm on December 7, 1982, at the age of 42, in North Vancouver.[2]

Athletic career[edit]

Jerome competed at the university level for Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon. He competed for Canada in the 1960, 1964, and 1968 Summer Olympics, winning 100 metre bronze in 1964. (He wore his University of Oregon sweats, rather than the contemporary practice of an official national outfit for all Olympic appearances, to warm up for the Olympic 100 metres in Tokyo.) He won the gold in the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the 1967 Pan American Games. During his career, Jerome set a total seven world records, including tying the 100 metres in 10.2, 10.1 and finally 10.0 seconds in 1960, tying a record established a month earlier by Germany's Armin Hary. Later he set the world record for the 100 yard dash at 9.2, making Jerome one of the few athletes to own both the 100 yard and 100 metre world record simultaneously. He was a member of the University of Oregon 4 × 100 m relay team that tied the world record of 40.0 seconds in 1962. In 1966 he again tied a world record with a 9.1 time in the 100 yard. From 1963 to 1966 he held or equaled four world records concurrently.[3] He continued to sprint successfully until the late 1960s, despite suffering an injury so severe at the Perth Commonwealth Games in 1962 that doctors initially believed he would never walk again.

Teaching and post-athletic career[edit]

Jerome received his Bachelor of Science in physical education from the University of Oregon in 1964 and taught with the Richmond School Board (1964–65) and then with the Vancouver School Board (1965–68). In 1968, he received a Master of Science in physical education from the University of Oregon.[4]

After retiring from athletics in 1969, he was invited by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to help create Canada's new Ministry of Sport. Jerome held a number of senior positions in the ministry but resigned over the government's cancellation of a large-scale public-private partnership he had negotiated with Kellogg's to promote youth participation in athletics. During the 1980s Jerome headed the Premier's Sport Award program in British Columbia.

Honours and tributes[edit]

Statue of Harry Jerome in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia

In 1970, Jerome was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.[5] The following year he was inducted into the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. Jerome was posthumously inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2001 and was named a Person of National Historical Significance in 2010.[6]

In 1984, the Labatts International Track Classic Pre-Olympic meet was renamed the Harry Jerome International Track Classic.[7][8] It has become a prestigious track and field meet held annually at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, British Columbia. The Harry Jerome Sports Complex in North Vancouver, a block from North Vancouver High School where he first went out for track in 1958, and the Harry Jerome Sports Centre, home to the Burnaby Velodrome in Burnaby, British Columbia, are named after Jerome, as are the weight room at his alma mater, the University of Oregon, and the track and field stadium in Prince Albert. The Stanley Park sea wall in Vancouver is graced with a 2.7-metre (9 ft) bronze statue of him. The annual Harry Jerome Awards, the national awards dinner for Canada's black community organized by the Black Business and Professionals Association (BBPA), is named after him.

On September 30, 2019, Google celebrated Harry Jerome's 79th birthday with a Google Doodle.[9]

Works about Jerome[edit]

Production began in April 2009 on a feature-length biographical documentary about Harry Jerome, entitled Mighty Jerome. Directed by Charles Officer and produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in Vancouver, the film was inspired by Fil Fraser’s book on Jerome, entitled Running Uphill.[10][11]

NFB producer Selwyn Jacob had approached Officer — along with four other directors — in 2007 with idea of making a documentary about Jerome. Officer's proposal was selected by Jacob and the NFB, despite the fact that he had never directed a documentary before.[12] This black and white film uses archival footage, interviews and dramatizations to explore the life and career of the Canadian track legend. Officer recreated museum installations in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver to interview Jerome's contemporaries and family members. His sister Valerie refused to participate in the film, however, due to objections over his portrayal in Fraser's book. The film features a score by Schaun Tozer. The film premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival on October 8, 2010.[12][13][14][15]



  1. ^ "Valerie Jerome Bio, Stats, and Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com.
  2. ^ "BC Archives". Royal BC Museum. September 30, 2019.
  3. ^ http://www.sportshall.ca/accessible/hm_profile.php?i=19[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Harry Jerome". The Canadian Encyclopedia. September 30, 2019.
  5. ^ "Mr. Harry W Jerome, O.C." The Governor General of Canada. September 30, 2019.
  6. ^ "Harry-Winston-Jerome-designated-as-one-of-Canada's-greatest-athletes-and-Olympic-medalist-and-national-historic-person". The Afro News. September 30, 2019.
  7. ^ "Meet History". Harry Jerome International Track Classic. Archived from the original on January 25, 2019. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Fleming, Andrew. "Archives: Sprinter Harry Jerome sets new Canadian record".
  9. ^ "Harry Jerome's 79th Birthday". Google. September 30, 2019.
  10. ^ "Charles Officer begins production on NFB Harry Jerome documentary". AfroToronto. April 19, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  11. ^ Lem, Val Ken (June 22, 2007). "Running Uphill: The Fast, Short Life of Canadian Champion Harry Jerome". Canadian Materials. The Manitoba Library Association. XIII (22).
  12. ^ a b Eisner, Ken (September 23, 2010). "VIFF 2010: Mighty Jerome a stylish portrait of one of Canada's greatest athletes". Georgia Straight. Vancouver. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  13. ^ Zacharias, Yvonne (October 8, 2010). "VIFF: The story of Harry Jerome is a moving piece of sports history". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved January 12, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Schaefer, Glen (October 8, 2010). "REVIEW: Mighty Jerome". Vancouver Province. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  15. ^ Anderson, Kelly (September 30, 2010). "VIFF Preview: "Mighty Jerome"". Realscreen. Retrieved January 12, 2011.

External links[edit]