During the Olympic Games, tales of determination are written by champion athletes.A medal displayed at the University of Toronto Athletic Centre is a reminder of one such occasion – when U of T rowers battled “Yale’s great crew” at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
Varsity football star Warren Snyder (MD 1927) and student Bob Hunter (BA 1928 VIC, MSc 1929) led the University of Toronto Rowing Club men’s eight. In the preliminary heats, the crew finished second to the heavily favoured Americans. However, they beat Argentina, Australia and Belgium in the second trials, giving them a shot at Olympic glory.
On Thursday, July 17, the gun fired to signal the start of the final race. Italian, English and American eights powered off the line,but the Canadians missed the sound and sat motionless for valuable moments.Stroking hard to catch up,Uof T pulled even with Yale at 1,500 metres.The American crew crossed to victory in a record time of six minutes 33.4 seconds; the Universityof Toronto boat trailed by a mere two lengths and claimed silver.
Uof T’s rowing club had formed in 1919 (at the time, the men’s eight had only one experienced oarsman) and had travelled far in five years. “Close second to Yale, with a half century of rowing behind it,” noted the Toronto Globe,“is an honour indeed.”