John Wilfrid Loaring. He was Kennedy Collegiate’s great male athlete of his era.
Born in Winnipeg on August 3, 1915, Loaring moved to Windsor in 1926.
He passed away November 20, 1969.
On the Kennedy Collegiate Track Team, he won 29 WSSA & WOSSA Medals, competing in 100yd, 220yd, 440yd and 880yd Runs; Mile & Medley Relays; and 120yd Low & High Hurdles.
WSSA Medals – Gold (11), Silver (2), Bronze (1)
WOSSA Medals – Gold (9), Silver (2), Bronze (4)
1931 & 32 – WSSA – 120yd Low Hurdles Records
1933 & 35 – WSSA – 120yd High Hurdles Records
1933 & 34 – WOSSA – 120yd High Hurdles Records
1935 – WSSA – 5 Gold Medals – 100yd, 220yd, 440yd, 880yd & Mile Relay – Senior Individual Champion
1935 – WOSSA – 440yd Canadian Record (50.0), & equalled his 120yd High Hurdles WOSSA Record.
Also many Gold and other medals in Ontario and Canadian High School Championships 1934 – Intra-Empire Schoolboy Games in Melbourne, Australia – Gold Medals in 120yd High Hurdles and as anchor of Ganada’s Mile Relay Team. 1930s Decade – Kennedy Collegiate’s “Most Memorable Athlete” Award
1935-36 Freshman President, University of Western Ontario, London, 1935 Senior Intercollegiate Track & Field Champion, with three Gold and one Bronze Medals. Many additional medals in in this and later years in Track & Field, Swimming and Harrier.
The first time Loaring competed in the 400m/440yd hurdles was at the 1936 Canadian Championships and Olympic Trials in Montreal. He won the 400m Hurdles, and also the 400m Run, breaking the Canadian Records for both.
1936 Olympic Games in Berlin – Silver Medal in 400m Hurdles, among a total of nine heats and finals in five days: 400m Run, 400m Hurdles, & anchoring Canada’s 4x400m Relay Team.
Loaring’s second competitive experience in the 400m hurdles was on his 21st birthday, August 3rd, in the heats at Berlin. The following day, he ran in both the semi-final and final of the 400m Hurdles. He was the youngest finalist, winning the silver medal, 3/10ths of a second behind the American gold medalist, who had set the World Record at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
On August 6th and 7th, Loaring ran four 400m races: first round, second round, semi-final and final, in which he placed sixth. On August 8th, Loaring anchored the 4x400m Canadian Relay Team. In the semi-final heat, he received the baton ahead of Germany’s Rudolf Harbig, who in 1939 would break World Records in the 400m and 800m runs. Loaring purposely slowed near the end, letting Harbig win in front of his countrymen, knowing that a Canadian second would qualify for the final. In the final, however, Canada’s third relay runner was fouled by an an American runner, and Loaring received the baton seven meters behind Harbig. He nearly caught Harbig, with Germany and Canada receiving the same time, but Loaring behind by less than a metre. Canada placed fourth.
Loaring is still the only athlete to compete in all three Olympic male finals involving the 400m distance in any combination of Olympic Games. World War II deprived him of two more Olympic Games during his prime years.
1936 British Empire vs USA Meet in London, England, one week after his last Olympic race – Gold Medal with a World Best time as anchorman, for the British Empire’s four-by-two-lap Steeplechase Relay Team. Loaring overcame a 12yd lead of the American anchorman who had previously held the 3,000m Steeplechase World Record. This was Loaring’s one and only steeplechase experience.
1937 Pan-American Games in Dallas, Texas – fourth place medal in 400m Run. Three days later, Loaring competed in an Oxford-Cambridge vs. Canada Dual Meet in Hamilton, Ontario. He won the 220yd Hurdles and the 440yd Run, upsetting Britain’s Olympic gold and silver medalist.
1938 British Empire Games(now Commonwealth Games) in Sydney, Australia – Gold Medal in 440yd Hurdles, 440yd Relay & Mile Relay. CANADIAN RECORD of 3 Gold Medals still stands. In the 440yd Hurdles final, Loaring noticeably eased up toward the end, still winning by 15 yards, in 1938’s World fastest 440yd/400m Hurdles time, missing the 440yd Hurdles World Record by 3/10ths of a second.
1938 – awarded the J. W. Davies Trophy, as the year’s top Canadian in Track & Field,Marathon and Harrier competition.
In 1940, while serving as a Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Radar Officer on loan to the British, Loaring’s ship was dispatched to pick up civilian survivors of a torpedoed ship. After explaining his Royal Life Saving skills to the ship’s doctor, he was assigned five tiny lifeless bodies. Three were revived under Loaring’s direction, and he was commended by the Ontario branch of the Royal Life Saving Society.
In 1942, while serving as Senior Technical Instructor for Radar Officers in Portsmouth, England, Loaring competed in track meets. In one of these, for the 440yd Run, he was second to the British Olympian. Then 45 minutes later, he won the 440yd Hurdles, 9/10ths of a second off the world record.This was amid wartime training restrictions, and 15 months after he had been put ashore in Africa to recover from oil poisoning after his ship had run out of ammunition and been sunk in the Battle for Crete, May 22, 1941.
In 1943, Loaring was transferred to Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, to head Canada’s Radar Training School until the end of the war. In 1946-47, as a Lieutenant Commander, he served as Commanding Officer of H.M.C.S. Hunter in Windsor.
Loaring achieved many Canadian track and swimming records, British Empire track records and World Best track performances.
1940 – Inagural Western Blanket Award, University of Western Ontario.
1956 – Inductee in the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame.
1978 – One of six original inductees of the University of Western Ontario “W” Club Athletic Hall of Fame.
1999 – Inaugural Inductee, University of Western Ontario Cross Country / Track and Field Hall of Fame.
2000 – Pioneer Award, and Wall of Honour Inductee, Mustang Swimming and Diving, UWO. Loaring was a four time Intermediate Intercollegiate Swimming Champion, and Team Captain.
1956-2006 – many track, road running and swimming events named in his honor.