percy williams olympic gold medal 1928


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Samuel Hawley is a writer of narrative nonfiction and fiction. His books are highly eclectic. He has written about 16th-century East Asian history, 19th-century Korean-American relations, Olympic sprinting and land speed racing and a circus elephant named Topsy who was electrocuted in 1903. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.


percy williams ray lewis bob granger
Percy shaking hands with Hamilton sprinter Ray Lewis (left), Bob Granger looking on. "Rapid Ray" would help win the bronze medal for Canada in the 4 x 400-metre relay at the 1932 LA Olympics. (Percy Williams Collection, hereafter PWC, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

percy williams manager george irvine
Vancouver businessman and racehorse owner George Irvine became Percy's manager in 1931. George ran the 7-Up bottling plant for the whole of BC. After he entered Percy's life there was little room for Bob Granger. (PWC, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

percy williams stanley park bbq stand
The Stanley Park barbecue stand business that Percy started in partnership with George Irvine. It operated for a few years in the early 1930s, then folded. (PWC, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

percy williams los angeles douglas fairbanks
In July 1931 Percy and manager George Irvine drove down to Los Angeles to compete in the 100 metres against some of America's best. Hollywood actor Douglas Fairbanks invited him to train at his private training quarters when he returned to LA for the Olympics the following year. (Vancouver Sun, June 14, 1931, author's collection)

percy williams los angeles colesium 1931
Percy, in mediocre condition, puts in a poor showing at a meet in Los Angeles on June 19, 1931, placing fourth in the 100-metre dash behind Frank Wykoff, Emmett Toppino and Cy Leland. It was Percy's first experience running under outdoor stadium lights. (

percy williams august 1931
A re-match between Percy, Frank Wykoff and Eddie Tolan was set for August 22, 1931 in Vancouver. It was an open question whether Percy was finished as a runner or if he still had more to show. Percy pulled out of the race at the last minute. His injured leg just wasn't any good. (PWC, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

you are old percy williams
Percy was at the center of a controversy in the run-up to the 1932 LA Olympics. He wanted to go direct to LA to compete in the Games, bypassing the Canadian Olympic trials in Hamilton, where he felt his presence was required merely to sell tickets. He also didn't want to expose his injured leg to the extra strain of qualifying so that he could save everything for one last all-out effort in LA. The Canadian Olympic Association relented and granted Percy a place on the team based on his past record. Percy's refusal to attend the trials nevertheless caused hard feelings in the East, as expressed in a poem in Ted Reeves' sports column in the Toronto Evening Telegram, July 13, 1932: "You are old Percy Williams..." (author's collection)

percy williams 1932
As Percy made his way to Los Angeles to compete in the 1932 Olympic Games, Canadians wondered if his injury-prone leg would hold up. Could he do the impossible and win gold again in the sprints? (Toronto Evening Telegram, July 23, 1932, author's collection)

percy williams 1932 la olympics pass
Percy's ID card for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. (PWC, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

percy williams frank wykoff douglas fairbanks
Actor Douglas Fairbanks (center), a avid fan of the Olympics, invited Percy (far left) and other athletes to his Hollywood mansion.That's Frank Wykoff to the left of Fairbanks and Emmett Toppino to the right. (PWC, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

percy williams los angeles olympic games 1932
Percy reading a book as he waits at the LA Olympic Village for the bus to take him to the stadium for a workout. Observers noted that he seemed tentative in his training, as if he didn't trust the leg he had injured at the Empire Games in 1930. (Toronto Star, July 26, 1932, author's collection)

percy williams 1932 la olympics
Percy with his movie camera filming at the LA Collesium, July 1932. (Canadian Sports Hall of Fame)

percy williams eliminated 1932 la olympics
The awful news as reported in the Vancouver Daily Province, August 1, 1932: Percy Williams had been eliminated in the semi-finals. Eddie Tolan went on to win the 100-metre gold medal, then the 200-metre gold medal as well, duplicating Percy's 1928 feat. (author's collection)

hawley i just ran percy williams worlds fasetst human

copyright   2011 Samuel Hawley