Lethbridge has rich sport history, and involvement in the Olympic Games is no exception. We celebrate past Olympians, coaches, and officials who have left their footprints on the Olympic legacy.
FLORIAN LINDER (Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, Pyeongchang 2018, Beijing 2022) Bobsleigh
A former sprinter from the University of Lethbridge, Florian Linder was recruited to the sport of bobsleigh when he moved to Calgary after graduating university. With his explosive start thanks to his sprinting background Linder found great success in bobsleigh and was selected as a member of Team Canada at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. After his appearance at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Florian Linder went on to have a unique coaching career. For the past three winter Olympics Linder has found his niche as the technical coach for the host’s team; coaching the Canadian, Russian, and Korean at each of the previous three Olympics.
RYAN SOMNER (Beijing 2022) Bobsleigh
Former Pronghorn athlete and 2016 graduate from the University of Lethbridge, Ryan Somner made his Olympic debut at Beijing 2022. He won a bronze medal in the four-man event as a crewman for pilot Justin Kripps along with Cam Stones and Ben Coakwell.
TAYLOR AUSTIN (Beijing 2022) Bobsleigh
Lethbridge-born, former University of Calgary football player Taylor Austin made his Olympic debut at Beijing 2022 where he was the pilot of two-man and four-man sleds. He got to race in all four heats of the two-man event, finishing 20th overall with brakeman Daniel Sunderland.
KAYLA MOLESCHI (Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020) Rugby Sevens
Kayla Moleschi first started playing rugby in grade nine at Columneetza Secondary School in Williams Lake, British Columbia. Moleschi then attended Thompson Rivers University and the University of Lethbridge, where she was named Canada West Rookie of the Year and CIS All-Canadian in 2011. She made her debut with Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team that same year, scoring two tries in her first match at the 2011 IRB Challenge Cup. Moleschi was part of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2015 Pan Am Games, scoring two tries. Kayla Moleschi was a member of Team Canada at Rio 2016 where she won bronze in the first ever Olympic rugby sevens tournament.
LIZ GLEADLE (London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020) Javelin
Liz came to Lethbridge and Lawrence Steinke in 2012 with the goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games in London. The decision paid off as Liz found herself as a member of the 2012 Olympic team. Gleadle made her second Olympic team in 2016. On top of her two Olympics Liz is a two time Pan Am Games medallist (Gold in 2015, and Silver in 2019) and has appeared on the Canadian national team on multiple occasions. Today, Liz is gearing up for her third, and final, Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021.
JILLIAN WEIR (Tokyo 2020) Athletics, Hammer Throw
Stepping into the great hammer throwing legacy left behind by Olympians Jim and Heather Steacy, Jillian Weir has qualified for her first Olympic Games. Weir came to Lethbridge to train under Lawrence Steinke in 2019 after working with him at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Jillian is a dual citizen of the USA and Canada and is the daughter of three-time English Olympian Robert Weir. Prior to coming to Lethbridge Jillian had a strong career throwing in the NCAA with the University of Oregon and has made a number of previous national teams.
ROSS BEKKERING (Tokyo 2020) 3x3 Basketball - Played for Netherlands
Ross Bekkering, a native of Taber, took a leave from his teaching position at LCI to pursue an opportunity to compete at the Tokyo Olympics for the Netherlands 3x3 basketball team. Bekkering led the team in scoring (and ranked second overall) at the FIBA 3x3 Europe Romania Qualifier on June 26-27, 2021. Bekkering is a former Canadian-Dutch professional basketball player.
KEYARA WARDLEY (Tokyo 2020) Rugby
Growing up in nearby Vulcan AB, Wardley played on a Deep South Lethbridge ARC team in high school and competed in the same league as Lethbridge's high school teams. Now the Alberta native is heading to her first Olympic Games at the age of 21. Wardley will feature as one of the youngest and most promising prospects on the Canadian team at the Games having only just made her Senior debut in 2019. That is not to say that she lacks any experience however as Wardley won Silver and Bronze at the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games and 2018 Youth Olympic Games respectively.
JON KOOPMANS (Pyeongchang 2018, Tokyo 2020) Broadcast
Jon Koopmans’ ticket to multiple Olympics and World Championships was his talent as a broadcast engineer. This included Koopmans attending the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics assisting with the broadcast ensuring that the Games were well set up for the event to be broadcast worldwide.
ROB KLINKHAMMER (Pyeongchang 2018) Hockey
As a youngster in Lethbridge, Rob Klinkhammer dreamed of playing for his hometown Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League. His four-year WHL career included three seasons with the Hurricanes and concluded with a 33-goal campaign as a 20-year-old. Klinkhammer worked his way up through the American Hockey League before making his National Hockey League debut with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010-2011. He would play six seasons with ﬁve franchises in the NHL, totaling 22 goals over 193 career games before heading overseas. Klinkhammer was a member of the 2018 Canadian Men’s Olympic Hockey Team at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Over the course of the six-game tournament, Klinkhammer chipped in two assists, played a solid defensive game, killed penalties and embodied the never-say-die attitude of the underdog Canadian squad. Canada surprised everyone with a quarter-ﬁnal shutout win over Finland before dropping a heartbreaking semi-final game to Germany. With true grit, the Canadians rebounded to defeat the Czech Republic 6-4 in the bronze medal match and secured a lifelong memory. Klinkhammer currently plays for the Kazan Ak-Bars of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, and in 2018 cemented his legacy in the city by scoring the clinching goal in Game 5 of the Gagarin Cup league championship series. Now an Olympic medalist, he continues to make Lethbridge his home in the oﬀ-season
DARYL BOYLE (Pyeongchang 2018) Hockey - Silver Medal
Daryl Boyle is another Olympic Hockey medallist with Lethbridge roots. Boyle played most of his minor hockey career in Lethbridge, and called Lethbridge his home while playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings. A dual citizen of Canada and Germany, Daryl Boyle was able to compete at the 2018 Olympic Games representing team Germany. The German team took home Silver from the Pyeongchang Games. Daryl Boyle plays professionally overseas in Germany for EHC Red Bull München.
RACHEL NICOL (Rio 2016) Swimming
Rachel Nicol was the Canadian flag bearer at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore, where she competed as a 17-year-old, winning a gold and two bronze medals. She then went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas on a swim scholarship and completed her studies in applied physiology. Nicol received both All-Conference and All-American honours in 2014-15 for her swimming performances in the NCAA. 2015 was a breakthrough year for Rachel Nicol as she won gold medals in the 50m and 100m breaststroke at the Canadian World Championship trials. In July, Nicol represented Canada at the Pan American Games winning a silver medal in the 4x100 medley relay, and a bronze in the 100m breaststroke. From there, she traveled to Kazan, Russia to compete at the World Championships, finishing 10th in the 50m and 11th in the 100m breaststroke. At the April 2016 Canadian Olympic & Paraswimming Trials held in Toronto, Nicol earned her spot on the Canadian Swim Team heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by achieving the necessary Olympic qualifying times in both the 100 and 200m breaststroke. Nicol is currently a member of the Lethbridge Amateur Swim club and is coached by Peter Schori. Recognized for her exemplary work ethics in the pool and gym, Nicol is a great role model giving freely of her time to younger athletes.
ASHLEY PATZER STEACY (Rio 2016) Rugby Sevens - Bronze Medal
Ashley Steacy playing rugby in grade 10 at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. At university, she was a three-time CIS champion from 2007-2009 with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorn women’s rugby team and was also a two-time CIS Player of the Year while earning her undergrad at U of L. In 2007, Steacy received her first cap with both Canada’s Women’s Sevens and Fifteens Teams. Since then, she has performed on some of the biggest stages in rugby. In 2009, she was named to Canada’s team for the Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens and in 2010, she was with the fifteens team participating in the Women’s Rugby World Cup. Steacy won a silver medal playing in her second Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2013 and after coming back from shoulder surgery in 2014, Steacy made the 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens World Series Dream Team and was named Rugby Canada’s Women’s Sevens Player of the Year for 2014.After helping Canada win gold in Women’s Rugby Sevens at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Lethbridge’s Ashley Patzer-Steacy went on to play for Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics despite missing all of the 2015-16 Women’s Rugby Sevens World Series season with a torn ACL and MCL. At the Olympic tournament, Steacy and her Canadian team performed well and won the bronze final against Great Britain.
HEATHER STEACY (London 2012 and Rio 2016) Hammer Throw
Heather Steacy had a stellar high school, university, and international career as a hammer thrower. She first represented Canada at the 2005 IAAF World Youth Championships before winning bronze at the 2007 Pan American Junior Championships. She captured hammer throw gold at the 2009 Canada Games. Steacy was a multiple time Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS, now USports) champion, and twice names Female Athlete of the Year at the University of Lethbridge. Until recently, Heather held all of the Alberta Provincial records in both the weight throw event and hammer throw event, from midget through senior ages. Heather made her Olympic debut at London 2012 where she was joined on the team by older brother Jim. She returned to the Games at Rio 2016.
LAWRENCE STEINKE (Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020) Track & Field - coach
Though Lawrence Steinke had a very successful career as an athlete in his own right and has been a stand out coach in the Canadian university system as the head coach of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, Steinke’s greatest achievements come in the form of his ability to consistently produce Olympic level athletes. For the past four Olympic Games (‘08, ‘12, and ‘16) Steinke has had at least one, and as many as three athletes under his coaching on Canada’s team at the Games, a streak he seems well set up to maintain in 2021 (see Liz Gleadle). Lawrence continues to coach the Pronghorns and is consistently being named to Canadian national teams’ coaching staffs.
JAMES (JIM) STEACY (Beijing 2008 and London 2012) Hammer Thrower
James ("Jim") Steacy was born 29 May 1984 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and was a Canadian hammer thrower. He is a five time CIS (since renamed to USports) national champion weight throw champion and was undefeated in collegiate competition in his career. Jim finished 10th at the 2005 World Student Games and was the 2006 Commonwealth Games Silver Medalist in the Hammer throw. In 2007, Jim continued to dominate by winning the gold medal at the Pan American Games Rio 2007 and narrowly missed the finals of the hammer throw at the 2007 IAAF World Track & Field Championships. He participated in two Olympic Games (Beijing 2008 and London 2012). Jim has been named the Pronghorn Male athlete of the year at the University of Lethbridge a record five times. He holds the Canadian record in hammer throw at 79.13, set in 2008. He currently serves as a police officer for Lethbridge Police Service, in Lethbridge, Alberta.
PAULINE VAN ROESSEL (Athens 2004) Rowing
Bow Island native and University of Lethbridge Pronghorn women’s basketball alumni placed fourth with her Women’s Eight Rowing Team at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens Greece. Prior to her Olympic experience Van Roessel attended the1987 Western Canada Summer Games representing Alberta in basketball and she earned her bachelor of education degree from the University of Lethbridge. Post Olympics, she has become an accomplished speaker focusing and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. JAN HARVEY-KILAM (Sydney 2000) Team Manager/Physician
Dr. Harvey-Kilam served on the Board of Directors of the Lethbridge Amateur Swim club from 1985-1994 in roles from President to Officials Chair. She continued to serve as team physician for the LA Swim Club and also as a Master Official from Swimming Canada for many years. She donated her medical skills for a variety of athletic events including the World Ironman Triathlon Championship in Hawaii, Team Alberta for the Canada Summer Games, and was deck Physician at the Olympic Swim Trials in Montreal. Dr. Harvey-Kilam has also served as Team Physician and Team Manager for the World Short Course Swim Championships in Rio De Janeiro in 1995 and served in the same role for the national swim team at the 1997 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. Dr. Harvey-Kilam was Team Manager/Physician for the Team Canada - Swimming at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
MORGAN CROOKS (Sydney 2000) Men's Eight Rowing
Morgan Crooks was named to the Men’s Eight Rowing Team for the Sydney 2000 Olympics where the team finished 7th.
MATT KABAYAMA (Nagano 1998) Men's Hockey, representing Japan
Matt Kabayama played for the WHL Med Hat Tigers, the CW Calgary Dinos and professionally in Germany for two years before 1994 when he moved to the Japan Ice Hockey League and spent nine seasons with Seibu Tetsudo. He competed in the men's tournament at the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics for Japan. In 2003, he joined the Nippon Paper Cranes, spending two seasons with that team before retiring in 2005. Matt and his family reside in Lethbridge.
STEVE TSUJIURA (Nagano 1998) Men's Hockey, representing Japan
Steve Tsujiura grew up in Coaldale, and played competitive hockey for Lethbridge and Taber, before becoming a Medicine Hat Tiger in 1978. In the '81 NHL draft he was chosen in the 10th round by the Philidelphia Flyers. and played AHL hockey for 9 years. He competed in the men's tournament at the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics for Japan. Following the Games, he retired from playing and became head coach for the Japanese National Team. Steve now resides in Maine.
SHAWNA (MOLCAK) KOLACZEK (Atlanta 1996) Basketball
Shawna Molcak from Cardston carried the family name to new heights during a brilliant basketball career with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. An all-around athlete in high school, Molcak brought her tremendous athleticism to the U of L in 1986 and by her second season, 1987-88, she was a second-team Canada West all-star. She not only earned first-team status the next three seasons, but was also named All Canadian each of those years, evidence of her standing as one of the best players in the nation. The sharp-shooting guard was honoured as the U of L's female athlete of the year four consecutive seasons. Her combination of basketball skills and leadership ability helped keep the Pronghorns ranked among the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union's top 10 throughout her five-year career. After wrapping up her Pronghorn career in 1990-91, she helped Canada to a bronze medal at the Summer Universiade in 1991. By 1990, Molcak was also a member of Canada's national women's team and she continued to represent the country internationally until 2000, including two years as team captain. The high point of her international career came in 1996 when she participated in the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Today she resides in Germany.
IAN BALFOUR (Lillehammer 1994, Nagano 1998) Paralympic Skiing
Though born without a right arm, lan Balfour has become a world champion athlete. At the age of 20, the Pincher Creek native won the World Downhill Championship at the World Championships for the Disabled in Anzere, Switzerland. In defeating 132 other competitors, Balfour bested the second-fastest skier by an amazing 1.33 seconds. Skiing since the age of four, Balfour became the youngest person (11) ever named to the Alberta Disabled Alpine Ski Team in 1991. At 14, he was the youngest competitor at the VI Paralympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994, as a member of the Canadian Disabled Alpine Ski Team. In 1995, he missed 10 weeks of the season with a broken arm, yet still finished fifth at the U.S. championships sporting a cast. Balfour earned two top-10 finishes at the 1996 world championships. Representing Canada at the 1998 Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, Balfour finished sixth in slalom, seventh in downhill, and eighth in super giant slalom.
JASON TURNER (Lillehammer 1994) Figure Skating
Born in Lethbridge, Jason Turner began skating with the Lethbridge Skating Club. He excelled in his career as a pair skater. Along with his then partner Jaime Salé, Jason Turner won Bronze at the 1994 Canadian Skating Championships. As a result of their performance at the Canadian championships, the pair was selected to compete at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer where they finished in 12th place.
EWAN BEATON ( Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996) Judo Athlete, (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008) Coach and Team Leader
Ewan Beaton had a stellar career as an athlete in Judo; making an appearance at not one, but two Olympic Games. After his competitive career ended he took to coaching which led to him attending a further two Olympics: Athens 2004 as a team coach and Beijing 2008 as the Canadian Judo Team Leader. Beaton came to Lethbridge in 2015 as the Judo Alberta High-Performance Coach at the Judo Canada Regional Training Centre in Lethbridge.
CAROLE GEMER (Barcelona 1992 and Sydney 2000) Track and Field
Carole Gemer was an outstanding performer in the early 1960's, earning a prominent place in Canadian track and field annals during that period. Carol was a thrower and she won a bronze medal in shot put at the 1962 Canadian National Championships. At the 1963 Nationals, Gemer showed amazing versatility, winning silvers in both the shot put and discus, as well as a bronze medal in Javelin. Carol was the recipient of the A.R. Lawrence award as Alberta's Outstanding Female Athlete in 1962 and 63. She established numerous provincial records and was named Lethbridge's Kinsmen Athlete of the Year in 1964. Since the completion of her track career, Gemer has gone on to be one of Lethbridge's leaders in track and field and gymnastics, from an administrative and coaching perspective. Carol was part of Team Canada with Athletics at the 2000 Sydney Olympic. Sadly Carole passed away on June 2, 2016 at the age of 71 years.
JIM KOTKAS (Seoul 1988) Baseball
Jim Kotkas played on multiple championship teams during an outstanding baseball career that took him from the Little League level to the summit of international competition. The Lethbridge athlete was a member of the Norcrest Little League squad which won the Western Canadian title in 1976 and the Canadian championship in 1977. He starred on the Lethbridge team that won the 13-year-old Little League Western Canadian championship in 1978, as a member of the Lethbridge Senior Little League All-Stars, he played on the Canadian championship team in 1979 and the Western Canadian champions in 1980. Kotkas was instrumental in the Lethbridge Elks winning the Montana State American Legion title in 1981 and 1983. Kotkas then went on to College of South Idaho, where he played in the College World Series in 1983 and 1984. The South Idaho Eagles won the national championship in 1984, after which Kotkas returned to Lethbridge in time to help Great West Tire win the Canadian senior men's slowpitch crown. A member of Canada's national team for eight years, Kotkas competed in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
GREGORY DUCE (Seoul 1988) Baseball
At 11-years-old, Gregory Duce helped Lethbridge win the 1976 Western Canadian Little League championship in Moose Jaw, Sask. The next year, Duce was one of the stars of the Lethbridge Norcrest squad which claimed the Canadian championship in Surrey, B.C., and represented Canada at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. After two more Canadian Little League titles in the 13-year-old and Senior divisions in 1978 and 1979, Duce graduated to the American Legion program, where he starred with the Lethbridge Elks. The Elks won the Montana State championship in 1981, then repeated in 1983 as Duce was named tournament MVP. Later that summer he played on the Canadian junior team which competed in the World Friendship Series in Johnstown, Pa. Duce headed south in 1984 for the first of two seasons at Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz. He was named an All-Region First Team all-star in '84. In 1985, Duce spent his summer break helping his Lethbridge squad to the Canadian slowpitch championship. Then in '86, playing with Grand Canyon College in Arizona, he was named NAIA College World Series MVP as the Antelopes won the NAIA title. He added to his international resume in 1987, playing with Canada's senior men's team at the Intercontinental Cup in Cuba and the Pan-Am Games in Indianapolis. Then in 1988, he was a member of the Canadian Olympic baseball team in Seoul, South Korea. Duce later turned to coaching and was named Coach of the Year among 4A schools in Arizona in 1992. Today, Gregory Duce is the assistant principal at Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
SCOTT MAXWELL (Los Angeles 1984) Baseball
Lethbridge has long been known as a hotbed of baseball talent, and one of the area's prized products is Scott Maxwell. The youngest in a sports-minded family in which two brothers went on to professional sports, Maxwell helped Lethbridge to the Canadian Senior Little League championship in 1979 and the Western Canadian Senior Little in 1980. He graduated to the Lethbridge Elks program, playing on two Montana State American Legion championship teams, in 1981 and 1983. Maxwell went on to Cochise College in Arizona, earning second-team all-conference honors in 1983. In 1984, he was named first-team all-conference and first-team all-region while also winning honourable mention on the All-American squad. Maxwell was a member of the Canadian national team which competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In the winter of 1985, Maxwell was drafted by the New York Yankees, but did not sign with the team. However, in 1986 he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and played a season with the Pioneer League's Medicine Hat Blue Jays.
FRED BLANEY (1984 Los Angeles) Judo
Blaney was inducted into Judo Canada's Hall of Fame in 1998 for outstanding national and international achievements as a member of Canada's National Judo Team. Following his athletic career, Blaney has been involved in the continuous development of Canadian Judo, on several levels, including as a coach, referee, and kata judge
RICK DUFF (Los Angeles 1984) Boxing
Rick Duff's punching power helped him distinguish himself as one of the finest boxers Lethbridge has ever produced. Duff's rise through the boxing ranks, under the guidance of Coach Kai Yip of the Lethbridge Boxing Club, was quick and steady. He won a gold medal at the Alberta Winter Games, and at age 15 won the gold at the Junior National Championships. He was an Intermediate National bronze medalist at 16, gold medal winner at Intermediate Nationals at 17, and Canadian Senior Champion at 18 and 19. On a tour of Sweden and Finland, Duff won three exhibition matches against international competition. He reached the pinnacle of his boxing career in 1984 when he represented Canada at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Duff also shone as a hockey goaltender, helping backstop the Lethbridge Native Sons to the Central Alberta Junior Hockey League Championship in 1985-86. Rick Duff is currently the head coach for the Lethbridge Boxing Club.
KAI YIP (Los Angeles 1984) Boxing - Coach
Kai was well known as an active member in local, provincial, and national boxing as an athlete and a coach. As a boxer, he competed across the country and was a provincial and national champion. One of the highlights of his career was representing Canada in the 1958 British Empire Games in Cardiff, Wales. He was inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame. As a coach, he trained amateur boxers at the Lethbridge Boxing Club for 35 years. He was also a part of the Canadian coaching staff at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
PERRY MIRKOVICH (Moscow 1980) Basketball
Perry Mikovich joined the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in 1975 after graduating from Winston Churchill Highschool. Mirkovich had an outstanding career with the Pronghorns which featured him setting multiple program records, being named a Canada-West all-star three times, and being a member of the CIAU All-Canadian and the U of L Male Athlete of the Year in his final season. Mirkovich was named to the 1980 Canadian National team, and despite Canada boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, he is officially recognized as a Canadian Olympian.
JOE MELI (Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988) Judo
Joe Meli was an outstanding all-around athlete who made his name on the international circuit as one of Canada's top judoka. Born in Lethbridge, Meli competed in a variety of sports as a youth. In 1975 he was captain of the Lethbridge Native Sons Hockey Club which won the gold medal at the 1975 Canada Winter Games held in Lethbridge. Joe Meli then went on to enjoy a successful career with the Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Hockey League. Meli has been a member of three Olympic teams (‘76, ‘84, 88’) and represented Canada at four Pan American Games, two World Championships, and is a seven-time Canadian Champion. Today Joe Meli works at the Meli Insurance Brokerage in Lethbridge.
PHIL TOLLESTRUP (Montreal 1976)
As a high school player, Phil starred with the Raymond Comets and helped the squad capture provincial boys’ basketball titles in 1967 and 1968. He went on to play four years at Brigham Young University, where he was a teammate of Cougar and Yugoslav legend Kresimir Cosic. Tollestrup returned home to southern Alberta for his final year of university basketball, suiting up with the U of L Pronghorns in 1972-73. That season, he led the Pronghorns to the Canada West final, earning CIS All- Canadian honours and being named the U of L’s male athlete of the year. The next year, Phil played professionally with a club in the Spanish first division, the Saski Baskonia - TAU Ceramica. Phil Tollestrup performed extensively on the international stage, representing Canada at the 1971, 1975 and 1979 Pan Am Games, the 1973 World Student Games, the 1974 FIBA World Championship, and the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, where he emerged as the Olympic tournament’s third-leading scorer while helping Canada to a fourth-place finish. Turning to coaching, Phil guided McMaster University from 1978 to 1980 and then returned to southern Alberta to coach high school basketball in Milk River, Stirling and Magrath. From 2004 to 2007, he was bench boss for the Lethbridge College Kodiak men’s basketball team. Tollestrup is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Raymond Sports Hall of Fame and the Pronghorn Hall of Fame.
AL MCCANN (Innsbruck 1976, Lake Placid 1980, Sarajevo 1984, Calgary 1988, Albertville 1992) Sports Broadcaster
Southern Albertans have followed McCann’s years in a career launched here about 37 years ago. He was born in Lethbridge and attended school in Coaldale. Participating on high school teams in all sports turned McCann into a steady performer. He excelled in basketball and fastball. He pitched for the Shaughnessy Cadillacs, and helped the Cadillacs win the Alberta Fastball title. McCann joined CJOC Radio in 1952, becoming a sports announcer in 1955 and he moved into television when the station extended into that medium. McCann, and sports fans of the area, recall the multi-sport broadcasts and seeing Al most days or nights in the Civic Centre, Adams, or Henderson Parks. A move to Edmonton in 1963 put him into the mainline national coverage with the CTV network - on the spot for football, boxing, Olympics, hockey, and golf. McCann has covered Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Eskimos games, 26 Grey Cup games, many Stanley Cup finals, five Olympics and other major events such as the lndy-500, Daytona-500 and PGA championships. Al passed away on March 11, 2015 at the age of 85.
TOM GREENWAY (Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980) Judo
The list of places Tom Greenway visited as a judo competitor reads like a travel brochure. West Germany, Holland, Argentina, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Tokyo, Puerto Rico, Paris, Hawaii, Arizona, California, Venezuela, Cuba, Scotland, not to mention all across Canada many times. Greenway's ticket to world travel was his success on the judo mat, where he competed starting in 1973. The Lethbridge athlete won three Canadian championships (1977, 1978, and 1988) and was a member of two Canadian Olympic teams, in 1976 and 1980. Greenway represented Canada at the Montreal Olympics in '76 and was denied a trip to the '80 games in Moscow because of the Olympic boycott. Greenway was a silver medalist at the Canadian championships on two occasions and won the bronze medal six times. He also competed in many top international events, finishing third at the Commonwealth games in Scotland in 1986 and placing third at the Pan Am Games in Argentina in 1978. Tom Greenway passed away in 2004.
YOSH SENDA (Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980) Judo - coach
Yoshio (Yosh) Senda was responsible for building up one of the most prominent judo programs in the country. Senda formed the Lethbridge YMCA Judo club in 1954 and coached it for 14 years before also forming the University of Lethbridge Judo club., and later the Lethbridge Kyodokan Judo Club. With numerous athletes going on to win provincial and national titles Senda was given the opportunity to join Team Canada’s coaching staff for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, as well as the 1980 Games in Moscow, though those Games were boycotted. Senda was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1977 as a builder, became Canada's first kudan (ninth dan, red belt) in 2007, and received the Order of Canada in 2008. Yosh Senda passed away in 2009.
GEORGE GEMER (Montreal 1976) Coach Track and Field
Since moving to Lethbridge in 1957 and forming the Lethbridge Track and Field Club in 1958, George Gemer has become a leading and well-respected spokesman, coach, and official for track and field at the local, provincial, national, and international levels. Gemer has organized and coached the Lethbridge Track and Field Club, Southwind Atletika Track and Field Club, and the University of Lethbridge Track and Field and Cross Country teams, producing seven national team members. George has also coached many international events, including the Pan American Games, and officiated internationally, working the throwing events at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Today, George still lives in Lethbridge and continues to support the University of Lethbridge’s teams.
Carmen Rinke (Montreal 1976) Boxing
Carmen Rinke was born in Blairmore and trained in Lethbridge. Carmen represented Canada in boxing at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He was defeated in the quarterfinals of the men's welterweight division (– 67 kilograms) by East Germany's eventual gold medalist Jochen Bachfeld. In the previous round, Rinke defeated Yoshifumi Seki of Japan.
PHIL ILLINGWORTH (Munich 1972) Judo
Judo has been a big part of Phil Illingworth's life for more than 30 years. He took up the sport at the age of 11 and later developed into a Canadian Juvenile Champion. In 1972, he won the Canadian Senior Championship in the middleweight class and represented Canada at the '72 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany. Illingworth earned numerous other local and provincial titles during his long judo career, including a third-place medal at the 1978 Canadian Championships. The sport gave Illingworth many opportunities for travel. Holder of a black belt, he trained in Japan for two years, in 1970 and 1971, and also trained in England.
ROBERT (BOB) KASTING JR. (Munich 1972) Swimming
Robert Kasting brought provincial, national, and international recognition to Lethbridge in the sport of competitive swimming. In the early 1970s, the Lethbridge Amateur Swim Club ranked as one of the top swim clubs in the country. The club, coached by Stan Siwik reached its high-water mark at the 1972 Canadian swimming championships in Winnipeg. The event doubled as the Olympic trials for the Summer Games in Munich, Germany, and faced stiff competition. LASC's 4 x 100-metre freestyle relay team of Robert and Norm Kasting, Lorne Kemmet, and Bill Gillespie responded to the challenge by winning the gold medal, setting a Canadian record of 3:41.20 in the process. Robert Kasting was selected to the national team, and Kasting was named captain of Canada's Olympic swim team. Kasting won one gold and four silver medals at the Commonwealth Games, five silvers at the Pan American Games, and a bronze medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics, as a member of Canadian relay teams. As well, in 1971, he won an individual bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Cali, Columbia in the 100 freestyle event. Robert Kasting now practices law in Vancouver.
WILLIAM (BILLY) GIBSON (Oslo 1952) Hockey - Gold Medal
Billy Gibson was an outstanding fastball and hockey player. So outstanding in fact that Billy Gibson was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame twice, once as a member of the Maple Leafs and again as a member of the Edmonton Mercurys. Gibson was a member of the two-time provincial champion Shaughnessy Cadillac fastball teams in the 1950's. His hockey accomplishments include two Alberta championships, one American national title, and a World Hockey championship with the Lethbridge Maple Leafs in 1951. Gibson was a member of the Edmonton Mercurys that won a gold medal at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway. During the tournament, he scored 15 goals and 7 assists in 8 games, making him the top scorer. Sadly, William Gibson passed away in 2006.
JUDGE JOHN A. JACKSON (Paris 1924, Los Angeles 1932) Spectator (Berlin 1936) Elected the leader of the Canadian Contingent of Athletes
Judge John A. Jackson was a judge in Lethbridge for 32 years, retiring from the bench in 1945. He was very involved in amateur sports. From his football career in university, Judge Jackson acquired the nickname “Stoney” or “Stonewall”. He was involved not only in football but soccer, rugby, hockey, baseball, tennis, golf, and more. “He was one of the founders, and in 1907, the president of the Alberta Football Association. In later years, while a Judge in Lethbridge, his keen sports interest was again recognized by being elected the leader of the Canadian Contingent of Athletes at the Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany in 1936. He attended, during his lifetime, three Olympic Games; Paris in 1924, Los Angeles in 1932, and Berlin, Germany in 1936” (The Beacon Central District Masonic Newsletter November 2008. Article Written by; Harry J. Noble, Past Master Britannia Lodge # 18 Ponoka, Alberta, November 21, 1992) The Galt Museum & Archives has in their collection a program from the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics that has written on it “kindest regards judge J.A. Jackson Sincerely yours, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.”
He was also a very active member of the Lethbridge Historical Society and was a member of the committee who worked diligently in the 1920s to get the start of the coal industry in Lethbridge recognized as a National Historic Event and which oversaw the festivities to celebrate coal mining in 1928. He was instrumental in getting the monument up in Galt Gardens to honour the coal miners.
John Ainsley Jackson died in 1951 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery.