Videos: Bill Crothers, Athletics

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In high school I was at a very, very small high school when I started, about 250 students in the school, Agincourt High School, and I went out for and was on the track team and at the end of the track season the coach said anyone interested in doing any running in the summer months. And at Agincourt in those days there was only one male Phys Ed teacher but he happened to have a track and field background which was very unique in all the Toronto District Area. And I went out and the coach never showed up but one other athlete did and I was watching the baseball practice or tryout something like that, he said, “Do you want to run or do you want to play baseball?” I said, “Okay I’ll run” and that’s how I started.

Ninety percent of the indoor meets that I went to I ran both an individual event and a relay. And one of the things, in the U.S. for example, and in particular Boston and New York, more so than any of the others, when they have a mile relay they’d have fifteen, sixteen different mile relay races with the universities and we got to compete in them and some of the open ones. I mean there’d be 15,000 to 20,000 people and the stands were full. And then it started happening in Toronto with the indoor meet in Toronto, they would put 15,000-16,000 people into Maple Leaf Gardens.

Leading up to, leading up to that ’63, I mean I made the, I made the British Empire they were called in those days Games in Australia in December of 1962 at Christmas time or at New Year's I went to the Sugar Bowl and I won the Sugar Bowl Mile and then in June I think it was I won the American AAU Championships in the 880 yards and set an American record. So that’s why I was right and I didn’t lose any 800 metre or 880 yard races that year.

We didn’t have a real build up for the Olympics in ’64 because I mean this is October, it’s out of our, out of our competitive season and we didn’t go to a lot of meets in Europe or anything like that to get ready for it. But Fred got us ready. We had on the first day of the track  competition in Tokyo they had the heats of the 800 metres. I won my heat so I qualified for the semi finals which were the next day and I won my semi final and we had three semi finals so only the first two and then the two fastest losers beyond the first two in each heat qualified. But I won my heat and so it was in the, was in the final with Snell. There were eight of us in the final. Snell had held the World Record and this was his second best time. But my time was better than the World Record that Peter had broken. So I think it was 29 years it stood as a Canadian record and I think to date, I think to date only three, either three or four Canadians have run faster than that time in the last what 46, 47 years.

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