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Olympians 1950 to present

Gérald Ouellette - Canadian Soldier Olympian

Gérald ‘Gerry’ Ouellette was born in Windsor, Ontario and joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1955, serving in the military for 20 years.

Ouellette began his shooting success while still a teenager, winning Cadet shooting titles. He competed in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia (his first big international competition). Facing fierce competition, Ouellette brought home the gold medal in small bore rifle shooting in the prone position after hitting 60 consecutive bulls-eyes to earn a perfect score of 600. He also achieved great success in service shooting competitions, winning the 1957 Service Pistol Title. In 1959, Ouellette won the Canadian sporting rifle championship, as well as a gold medal and two silver medals at the Pan-American Games. He competed at a high level for years, bringing home a silver medal from the 1967 Pan-American Games.

Captain Ouellette died at age 40 when the private plane which he was piloting crashed. He is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Ouellette honoured on a Canadian postage stamp

Kenneth Money - Canadian Soldier Olympian

One of the Canadians who wore both military and Olympic uniforms also went on to wear an astronaut’s uniform. Kenneth Money was born in Toronto and joined the Canadian military in 1953. He set records in the high jump as a student at the University of Toronto and represented Canada in the event at the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, finishing in fifth place.

Money went on to become a jet pilot, earn advanced degrees in physiology and publish widely in scientific journals. He contributed new knowledge to the study of motion sickness and the biological effects of space flight. In the 1980s, Major Money was selected to be part of the Canadian astronaut program, working as one of the team members on the 1992 Spacelab mission that saw Roberta Bondar (Canada’s first female astronaut) go into space. Money was a backup astronaut for the mission, contributed to experiments with the International Microgravity Laboratory, and was a Spacelab operations radio communicator. In 1994, Money was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross for his many contributions to science and technology.

Canadian astronaut Ken Money

Denis Whitaker - Canadian Soldier Olympian

Denis Whitaker was born in Calgary in 1915 and grew up in Toronto. He attended the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, where he captained the school’s hockey and football teams. After graduation, Whitaker played quarterback for the Hamilton Tigers football team (which would later become the Hamilton Tigercats).

Whitaker joined the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry after the outbreak of the Second World War. His leadership and courage in battle would see him rise rapidly through the ranks and earn two Distinguished Service Orders for his actions during the Dieppe Raid in August 1942 and the Battle of the Rhineland in February 1945. Twice wounded, he would also be named an Officer of the Legion of Honour (France) and a Commander, Order of the Crown (Belgium).

After leaving military service as a brigadier-general in 1951, Whitaker entered the business world. He also continued his life-long connection with sports, both as a participant in sports like squash and water skiing, and as an administrator. He was chairman of the Canadian Equestrian Team that won two Olympic gold medals and become Director of the Canadian Olympic Association in the 1970s. Whitaker was the Chef de Mission for the Canadian team in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games and headed up the team that boycotted the Moscow Games in 1980. He was also Governor of the Olympic Trust of Canada.

Denis Whitaker

Whitaker added being a successful author to his long list of accomplishments when he wrote a number of popular books about the Second World War. He was named to the Order of Canada and elected to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Whitaker died in 2001.

Steve Cyr - Canadian Soldier Olympian

Steve Cyr was born in West Germany, where his father was serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. After returning to Canada and settling in Québec, Cyr became interested in biathlon when he saw soldiers stationed at nearby Canadian Armed Forces Base Valcartier training for the event. He began competing at age 19 and quickly proved to be an elite-level biathlete. Cyr enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1988, becoming a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment (commonly known as the 'Van Doos').

Corporal Cyr has the distinction of competing in three different Winter Olympics: Albertville, France in 1992, Lillehammer, Norway in 1994 and Nagano, Japan in 1998. He placed as high as eighth in his Olympic biathlon competition career, which included 10 kilometre, 20 kilometre and team relay events. In addition to competing internationally, Cyr won Canadian biathlon titles in 1992, 2000 and 2002. He took great pride in also representing his regiment at many military biathlon competitions, both in Canada and beyond, taking home titles for the Van Doos on numerous occasions. Cyr was inducted into the Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.

Steve Cyr competing at the 1992 Winter Olympics

Mark Graham - Canadian Soldier Olympian

Born in Jamaica, Mark Graham moved to Hamilton, Ontario with his family as a child. An exceptional athlete, he was a member of the Canadian 4 x 400 metre relay team in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. While his team did not reach the finals, Graham’s skills in track-and-field would go on to earn him an athletic scholarship from the University of Nebraska and later at Kent State University in Ohio.

In 2004, he answered the call to serve in the cause of peace and freedom and enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces. Private Graham was sent to Afghanistan with the Royal Canadian Regiment. The 33-year old was killed by ‘friendly fire’ on September 4, 2006 when his platoon was mistakenly attacked by an American warplane during an operation to capture a Taliban stronghold west of Kandahar. Graham is buried at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa.

Private Mark Graham

Sharon Donnelly - Canadian Soldier Olympian

Sharon Donnelly was born in Toronto, Ontario. An elite-level competitive swimmer as a teenager, she entered the Royal Military College at age 17 and became a Canadian Armed Forces member.

Donnelly began to compete at a recreational level in triathlons during college and soon realized she had a natural talent. Donnelly enjoyed great success in her sport, being named Canadian Armed Forces Female Athlete of the Year in 1995, becoming a three-time Canadian champion, winning a silver medal at the World Military Games in 1997 and winning gold at the 1999 Pan-American Games in Winnipeg. In recognition of her achievements, Captain Donnelly was inducted into the Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Sharon Donnelly at the 2000 Olympics

When it was announced that the triathlon would be a new event at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Captain Donnelly left her position as a logistics officer with the regular forces in order to train full-time and qualify for the Canadian team (although she remained in the army reserves). At the Olympics she crashed during the cycling leg of the triathlon competition, unfortunately taking her out of the running for a medal. The bruised and bloodied Donnelly persevered, however, and finished the race. She remained active in the sport, even going on to be an assistant coach for the 2008 US Olympic team.

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