John Howard (athlete)

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John Armstrong Howard (October 6, 1888 – January 10, 1937[1]) was a Canadian track and field athlete thought to be the first black Olympic athlete from Canada,[1] competing in the 1912 Summer Olympics.

Howard was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to a barber.[1] In addition to his domination of Canadian sprinting, he also played baseball as a catcher on the Crescent Creamery Baseball Club in Winnipeg.[1]

He was cited by major Canadian media as Canada's best gold medal hope for the 1912 Olympics. During training for the Olympics, he ran into conflicts with chief coach Walter Knox; according to the Manitoba Free Press of June 27, 1912, Knox accused Howard of insubordination, and, in an era when discrimination against black athletes was common, threatened to expel him from the team. The efforts of the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada kept Howard on the team. In the Olympics in Stockholm, he was hindered by a stomach ailment[1] and stress resulting from the discord with Coach Knox, and was eliminated in the semi-finals of the 100 metres competition as well as of the 200 metres event. He was also a member of the Canadian relay teams which were eliminated in the semi-final of the 4x100 metre relay competition and in the first round of the 4x400 metre relay event.

In 1917, he went to England as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, serving as a stretcher bearer for army hospitals during World War I. He competed in the 1920 Inter-Allied Games held in Paris.

He returned to Canada about two years after going to Europe with a white English wife, Edith (née Lipscomb).[1] They homesteaded in Ste. Rose du Lac, north of Winnipeg, but were forced to leave by hostility to the interracial marriage.[1] Howard found work as a railway porter. Later, the marriage broke up.

He is the grandfather of Olympic sprinters Harry Jerome and Valerie Jerome.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Stephen Hume (April 24, 2010). "Medal's travels chart the path of history". Vancouver Sun. 

External links[edit]