Canadians cannot think of their own athletics history without considering many domestic champions and outstanding individuals who are of African descent. Of recent memory, there is Damian Warner, and Pierce LePage, two champion decathletes. A great decathlete from the past is Mike Smith.

Sprinters that come to mind might be Bruny Surin, Donovan Bailey, Glenroy Gilbert, and more recently Andre de Grasse. Marco Arop in the 800m is currently at the top of his game. He hopes to challenge the world record in the event.

Phylicia George in the 100m hurdles at Harry Jerome Track Classic in Burnaby (Vancouver).

Camryn Rogers of Vancouver is a Commonwealth and world champion in the hammer throw. From the not-too-distant past is Perdita Felician in the 100m hurdles, who is a world champion and two-time national record holder. Crystabel Nettey comes to mind in the long jump. She is an eight-time national champion, Canadian record holder and Commonwealth Games champion in the long jump.

Canadian athletes with African roots have a long and successful history competing within and for Canada. Here are three profiled by Athletics Canada:


Doing something that has never been done before is complicated.

It’s an honour, but also a responsibility. It takes years of commitment, but the moment of achievement passes quickly.

Being one of one makes you a leader.

Charmaine Crooks became Canada’s first five-time Olympian in glorious fashion – leading Canada’s 1996 Olympic Team into the Atlanta Olympic Stadium and our nation’s flag bearer. It was a logical choice. She has been a standard bearer in Canadian sport for most of her life.


Over the course of his para athletic career, Dean Bergeron earned 11 Paralympic medals and 8 more World Championships medals.

That kind of sustained success in any endeavour is worth celebrating. But to be among the best in the world in the hyper-competitive world of international T52 wheelchair racing is close to superhuman.

Bergeron’s initial sport dream wasn’t on the track but on the ice. He was a member of the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – a stone’s throw from pro hockey. After a spinal cord injury as the result of an on-ice fight changed Bergeron’s ice, we has paraplegia. In the years since, Bergeron has become an outspoken voice against fighting in hockey.


Harry Jerome, the man, left this world all too quickly. Harry Jerome, the name, is stitched into the very fabric of Canadian athletics.

Following in the very fast footsteps of his grandfather John “Army” Howard, Jerome is one of the best to ever compete for Canada on the track. A three-time Olympian, including his bronze-medal performance at Tokyo 1964, he set or equalled in four events and was the first Canadian-born athlete to hold a world track record. He also collected 100 metre gold at the Commonwealth Games in 1966 and the Pan American Games in Winnipeg.

Excellence doesn’t come without perseverance. Jerome famously fought through devastating injuries during his racing career. Serious injuries struck on the biggest stages twice: first his hamstring at the Rome 1960 Olympics and then his quadriceps at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia.

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