Bill Fritz was a standout runner who represented Canada at Olympic and British Empire Games. He was part of a team that held the Canadian mile relay record for longer than a decade.
Fritz was born in Ferrybank, Alberta on August 14, 1914.
While attending Walkerville Collegiate, Fritz set several WSSA, WOSSA, and Ontario records. His 1931 440-yard time of 52.6 seconds was unbroken at the WSSA Intermediate level until ’53. He won gold medals in shot put — unusual for a sprinter — and broad jump at the same meet. The following year, Fritz set two WSSA Senior records. His 22.4-second 220-yard time lasted until 1975, and his 50.2-second 440-yard time, bettering his Junior record, held until ’65. At the 1932 WOSSA meet, Fritz ran the 440-yard dash in 50 seconds flat, setting a Canadian Inter-Scholastic record.
Fritz went on to study at Queen’s University, where he won eight intercollegiate championships in the 220 and 440-yard races. He was the ninth winner of the Jenkins Trophy, one of the university’s oldest ongoing honours. The prestigious trophy is awarded annually to the school’s most outstanding well-rounded scholar-athlete.
During his racing career, Fritz is known to have trained through the winter in Kingston’s snowdrifts. This harsh regimen is said to have propelled him to starring performances against the world’s best at indoor meets in New York and at the Boston Millrose Games.
In 1933, at the age of 23, Fritz contributed to Canadian record in the mile relay that was not broken until ’47. Fritz, Art Scott, Glenn Sherman, and Ray Lauzon combined to set the mark while racing for the Windsor Olympic Club under coach Hec Phillips.
Fritz achieved international recognition at the 1934 British Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games) in London, England. At the Games, he placed fourth in the 440 and took silver in the mile relay alongside Joe Addison, Ray Lewis, and fellow Windsorite Art Scott.
Two years later, at the Berlin Olympics, Fritz finished fifth in the “All-English-speaking” 400-metre final. He finished fourth in the mile relay as member of a team that also included Marshall Limon, Phil Edwards, and fellow WECSHOF member John Loaring.
As part of the Canadian mile relay team, Fritz won a gold medal at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney, Australia. His team’s 47.5-second time was an Australian record.
Bill Fritz passed away on October 14, 1995, two months after his 81st birthday.