B.C. Olympian’s gold medals restored 43 years after they were stolen
More than 40 years after it was stolen, the BC Sports Hall of Fame in Vancouver once again honors Percy Williams with the gold medal.
Williams won double gold medals for Canada in the 100m and 200m dash at the 1928 Olympics, becoming only the third athlete in history to win both events. Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966 and his medal was on display until it was stolen in 1980.
Due to the unusual circumstances, the International Olympic Committee agreed, at the request of Williams’ family, to reproduce the medals based on the original specifications of the Amsterdam Games.
“We are thrilled that the Olympic Committee will be able to exchange Percy’s medals and restore the memory of his contribution to Canadian history,” said Della Riedel, Williams’ 102-year-old cousin-in-law. She said in a video she released. She was 8 when Williams won the gold medal.
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“I’m so glad I was able to contribute in some small way to renewing the Percy story,” said Tracy Meade, a member of Williams’ extended family who was at BC Place to donate the medal to the Hall of Fame. “He’s a great Canadian athlete and his achievements will be on display again.
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“I felt like I had to put his perception back on so that people don’t forget this great man, not just his family connection.”
Williams began running at age 16, a year after being told to abstain from sports due to acute rheumatic fever. In 1928, he waited tables to pay for his trials at the Olympic Games in Hamilton, Ontario.
Williams’ victory at the Olympics was so unexpected that officials did not have a Canadian flag or national anthem at the medal ceremony.
He returned to a hero’s welcome, greeted by 25,000 people at the station. This was the largest parade Vancouver has ever seen.
“Without a doubt, Percy Williams is one of the most underrated Canadian Olympians of all time,” BC Sports Hall of Fame curator Jason Beck said in a statement. “Percy’s recreation of her 1928 Amsterdam Olympic gold medal brings back the spotlight within the BC Sports Hall of Fame to her one of the most incredible underdog stories in BC Sports history.”
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