With the recent world media focus on the Winter Olympics it is fitting that this week we feature the Mighty Jerome, otherwise known as Henry “Harry” Winston Jerome. An inspirational man, an olympian, and a world record breaker in the sport of running.
Running came naturally to Harry as his grandfather, John Howard , was also an olympic track and field runner who represented the colony of Canada in the 1912 Summer Olympics. Harry’s sister, Valerie Jerome, was also a track star and represented the colony of Canada in the 1960 Summer Olympics.
Harry began running in high school in Vancouver(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territories). After quickly rising to the top in running Harry went on to break numerous world records in sprint running. In the 1960 Olympics Harry pulled a muscle and could not compete. In 1962, with the world watching and expecting Harry to break records, he was severely injured. He had ruptured his left quadricep and doctors said he would never run again. Harry Jerome, however, knew he would not let this injury prevent his dream of running again. Harry Jerome returned to competitive running in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo against all odds, and returned to the colony of Canada with a bronze medal in the 100 metre sprint.
He is an inspiration among athletes. Even after an injury that would end most running careers, not only did Harry come back, but in 1966 he broke his own world record in the 100 metre dash(a record he shared with Bob Hayes, an American runner). This record was not defeated until 1974. He went on afterwards to continue in competition until his retirement from professional running in 1968. Through the 1970’s and up until his sudden death from a brain aneurysm in 1982 he coached children and traveled the country lecturing and giving running clinics. Harry was also known for promoting sport among youth, in particular among black youth in Canada. His efforts in youth work earned him the “Order of Canada.”
There is a statue dedicated to Henry “Harry” Winston Jerome in Vancouver’s Stanley park on the territories of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples, commemorating this amazing athlete and appreciation for the work he did in the black community and beyond.
If you would like to learn more about the Mighty Jerome see the following links.
– Daphne Shaed