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Black Historical past Month: the founding father of Canadian sprinting


Black Historical past Month enshrines and remembers a number of the most pivotal figures in sport, who’ve shattered glass ceilings and raised the bar. Prior to now 30 years, Canadian athletes have excelled within the sprinting self-discipline, delivering a number of Olympic and world medals. Once you consider pioneers of Canadian sprinting, chances are you’ll consider names like Donovan Bailey, Mark McKoy and Bruny Surin, however the sport goes again generations earlier than this; one title many overlook is Eldridge Eatman, who was one of many quickest males on this planet between 1904 and 1910.

Born in March 1880 and rising up in Saint John, N.B., Eatman had an curiosity in “foot-racing” (now monitor). He was unable to compete in lots of races, as a result of his household was poor, and he couldn’t afford to purchase trainers.

Since Black athletes had been barred from newbie sports activities, Eatman would take part in unsanctioned foot races on the park.

In 1902, Eatman was taken below the wing of sports activities promoter Hazen Campbell, who helped present him with teaching and entries into sanctioned races. Only some Black Canadians competed in skilled sports activities on the time, and Eatman was the primary to problem the color barrier in monitor and area.

A photograph of Eldridge Eatman in 1904

Eatman liked to race for prize cash, and famously mentioned, “Medals are all proper, however you may’t purchase trainers with them or eat them.”

On the 1905 Maritime Championships, Eatman set a document for the quickest Canadian 100-yard dash, with a time of 9.8 seconds.

By 1914, Eatman had set data for 60 yards in 6.1 seconds and 100 yards in 9.4 seconds. At one level, he issued a problem, inviting all comers to race him “from 60 yards to 280.” He was rumoured to have overwhelmed a thoroughbred racehorse in a 120-yard match.

Eatman’s sprinting profession got here to a halt in 1915 when he tried to volunteer for the Canadian Military throughout WWI, nevertheless it was not accepting Black recruits. So he went to England and enlisted within the British Military, serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers.

After the conflict, Eatman mixed his passions for athletics and for leisure, touring with a musical troupe. 

In 1937, Eatman helped set up a trans-provincial marathon from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia, modelled after the well-known American footrace “The Bunion Derby” a decade earlier, which went from Los Angeles to New York. The race by no means got here to fruition.

On Aug. 15, 1960, Eatman collapsed and died on the road in Saint John whereas ready for a bus. He has since been inducted into the New Brunswick Sports activities Corridor of Fame (in 2016) and the Maritime Sports activities Corridor of Fame (in 2019). 



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