His name is so obscure, it doesn’t even grace the title of a new book about him.
Even if author Mark Hebscher included George Washington Orton in the title, would you know who he was? Orton is Canada’s first ever Olympic medallist, reaching the podium with bronze in hurdles and then winning gold in steeplechase at the 1900 Summer Olympics held in Paris.
For decades, what should have been a celebrated Canadian achievement, was essentially lost to history.
Erroneously, his medals were credited to the U.S. as he was enrolled with the University of Pennsylvania and thus based in Philadelphia. It took 70 years, before the International Olympic Committee corrected their books.
By then, Orton’s accomplishment had faded in time.
A trivia question based on Orton’s feat sparked Hebscher to investigate and subsequently uncover more about this dynamic man born in Strathroy, Ontario, six years after Confederation. The result is The Greatest Athlete (you’ve never heard of) – Canada’s First Olympic Gold Medallist.
Hebscher is most recognizable for his 11 year run at Global’s SportsLine from 1984-1995 where he and Jim Tatti entertained viewers with their unique brand of humour and insight in the early days of sports highlight shows. The father of the legendary Hebsy awards, now hosts his own podcast, Hebsy On Sports.
Please join us for a conversation about a true Canadian trailblazer – George Washington Orton