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 attestation paper 1940
The attestation paper that Percy signed on August 19, 1940 when he joined the active militia. (Library and Archives Canada)

percy williams pilot ww2
Percy served initially as a civilian pilot during WW2, ferrying aricraft around the country for Canadian Airways, then became a flight instructor for the Royal Canadian Air Force. "I was too old to be a fighter pilot," he said at the time, "so I did the next best thing." (Percy Williams Collection, hereafter PWC, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

percy williams imposter 1945
An article from the Vancouver Daily Province, July 6, 1945 about the unmasking of an imposter competing as Percy Williams at a track meet in Amsterdam. (author's collection)

percy williams empire stadium 1954
Percy in one of his rare public appearances in later life: the ground-breaking ceremony for Vancouver's Empire Stadium, 1954. (Bill and Christine McNulty, Peerless Percy)

percy williams harry jerome
Percy, holding one of his 1928 gold medals, poses with Vancouver sprinter and Olympic athlete Harry Jerome. Jermore, one of the world's top sprinters in the 1960s, coincidentally died scarcely a week after Percy, on December 7, 1982. (Bill and Christine McNulty, Peerless Percy)

bob granger death
Percy's old coach Bob Granger died in a nursing home at Parksville on Vancouver Island in November 1970. This is an article about him from the Nanaimo Daily Free Press, January 12, 1971. (author's collection)

percy williams golf clubs
This is one of a set of golf clubs that Percy used in later life at the Capilano Golf and Country Club, where he was a member. The initials "P.W." are engraved on the bottom. The clubs were sold off at the estate sale following Percy's death, and are now owned by DavidHandy of Creston, BC, who kindly sent me this photo.

percy williams BC sports hall of fame
Percy, holding his 1928 Olympic gold medals for the 100 and 200 metres, poses in front of the Percy Williams exhibit at the BC Sports Hall of Fame in Vancouver. (Bill and Christine McNulty, Peerless Percy)

percy williams olympic medals stolen
In January 1980 Percy's Olympic gold medals were stolen from their display case at the BC Sports Hall of Fame. They were never recovered. (Vancouver Sun, January 15, 1980, author's collection)

percy williams receiving order of canada
On July 6, 1980, Governor-General Edward Schreyer awarded Percy the Order of Canada at a ceremony at Stanley Park in Vancouver. Percy, then aged 72, declined to make a speech after the presentation. He would only say that it was "a very great honor." Percy's mother Charlotte, who lived with him all her life, had just died a few months before. (PWC, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

percy williams apartment
This is the apartment building on Chilco Street in Vancouver where Percy lived during the final decades of his life. It was here that he committed suicide with a shotgun, lying in his bathtub, on November 29, 1982. He was 74. (photo by Samuel Hawley)

percy williams memorial service
The order of service for the memorial that was held for Percy at University Hill United Church, Vancouver, December 3, 1982. Percy's old friend Harold Wright gave the eulogy. (courtesy James Worrall)

percy williams grave masonic cemetery
Percy's modest gravestone, right foreground, in the Masonic Cemetery in Burnaby, BC. (photo by Samuel Hawley)

percy williams grave
Percy's gravestone is situated in front of the larger stone he had erected for his father Fred Williams in 1952. (photo by Samuel Hawley)

percy alfred williams 1908-1982
The gravestone of Percy Williams, one of Canada's greatest Olympic athletics, is no bigger than a sheet of letter paper. That's the way he wanted it. The inscription reads: "Percy A. Williams, 1928 Olympic Champion, 1908-1982." (photo by Samuel Hawley)

percy williams school track shoes
On November 17, 1983, Percy Williams Junior Public School was opened in Toronto, with a donated pair of Percy's track shoes on display in the lobby--the same shoes, it is believed, in which he set his 10.3-second world record in the 100 metres in 1930. In this photo a Toronto police detective holds the shoes after they were stolen in 2005 and subsequently recovered. (Toronto Star, March 22, 2005, author's collection)

brockton point track vancouver
This is how the Brockton Point track, where Percy won his first races, appears today. (photo by Samuel Hawley)

author samuel hawley percy williams statue vancouver
Author Samuel Hawley standing beside the statue of Percy that was erected at BC Place in 1995, near the entrance to the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. (photo by Samuel Hawley)

percy williams statue vancouver
Another shot of the Percy Williams statue, BC Place, Vancouver. (photo by Samuel Hawley)

percy williams statue bc sports hall of fame
Percy A. Williams, Olympic Champion, Amsterdam 1928, winner of the the gold medal in the 100- and 200-metre sprints. (photo by Samuel Hawley)

samuel hawley percy williams worlds fasetst human

copyright 2011 Samuel Hawley