The Olympic Games are considered the world’s foremost sports competition, with more than 200 nations participating.
That’s a lot of nations and a lot of athletes. Remarkably, over the past 40 years the Comox Valley – with a population of approximately 60,000 – has produced 20 Olympic and Paralympic athletes who have appeared in 27 Games.
Geoff Kabush and Glenn Rupertus each have represented Canada at three Olympics, while Terry Tobacco, Edgar Smith and Tom Herschmiller have been to two Games apiece.
A commemorative plaque listing the 19 local Olympians and one Paralympian was on display Nov. 29 at the Comox Valley Sports Centre at a ceremony honouring the Valley’s latest sports luminary – wheelchair rugby athlete Byron Green, who helped Canada to a fourth-place finish at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
The plaque was created in 2010 in conjunction with the Winter Olympics coming to Vancouver that year. The Comox Valley Walk of Achievement chose to honour 17 past Olympians who were born or live in the Comox Valley.
Working with the Comox Valley Spirit of BC Community Committee these individuals were identified and 10 were able to attend the induction ceremony in February.
Many of the athletes listed on the plaque are hall of famers, be it at scholastic, provincial, national or sport-specific halls.
Here’s a look at that impressive list of the Comox Valley’s Olympians and Paralympians:
Cheryl Howard (rowing) of Comox: Montreal 1976 – 6th in women’s double sculls.
Tom Howard (marathon) of Vancouver: Montreal 1976 – 30th.
Patty Loverock (athletics) of Vancouver: Montreal 1976 – 100m (semifinal round, Canadian record), 200m (semifinal round, Canadian record), 4x100m relay 4th (Commonwealth record).
Susan Kelsey (swimming) of Stettler, Alta.: Montreal 1976 – bronze medal 4x100m medley relay.
Geoff Kabush (cross-country mountain biking) of Comox: London 2012 – 8th; Beijing 2008 – 20th; Sydney 2000 – 9th.
Tom Graham (indoor volleyball) of Comox: Montreal 1976 – 9th.
Terry Tobacco (athletics) of Cumberland: Melbourne 1956 – 5th 4x400m relay and ran 400m; Rome 1960 – ran same events.
Edgar Smith (rowing) of Comox: Montreal 1976 – 8th coxed eight; Munich 1972 – 12th coxed four.
Don Irvine (canoe-kayak) of Calgary: Los Angeles 1984 – 9th men’s sprint K-4, 1,000m.
Glenn Rupertus (biathlon) of Wetaskwin, Alta.: Lillehammer 1994 – 49th individual 20K, 62nd sprint 10K; Albertville 1992 – 20th individual 20K, 10th relay 4×7.5K, 52nd 10K sprint; Calgary 1988 – 15th relay 4×7.5K, 34th sprint 10K.
Lindsay Sparkes (curling) of North Vancouver: Calgary 1988 – gold medal in curling (demonstration sport).
Tom Herschmiller (rowing) of Comox: Athens 2004 – silver medal in coxless four; Sydney 2000 – 7th coxed eight.
Jay Dahlgren (javelin) of Vancouver: Mexico City 1968 – 13th.
Dick McClure (rowing) of Comox: Melbourne 1956 – silver medal with UBC eights.
Kiara Bisaro (cross-country mountain biking) of Courtenay: Athens 2004 – 15th.
John Hawkins (athletics) a Courtenay High School grad: Munich 1972 – 9th high jump.
Rhonda Ross (rowing) of Vancouver: Montreal 1976 – 4th coxed eight.
Cam Levins (athletics) of Black Creek: London 2012 – 11th 10,000m, 14th 5,000m.
Martin Reader (beach volleyball) of Comox: London 2012 – with partner Josh Binstock tied for 17th.
Byron Green (wheelchair rugby) of Merville: Rio 2016 – 4th.