Just a few months before conquering the sprinting world at the 1996 Summer Olympics, Donovan Bailey competed in Abbotsford and blazed through the 100 metres dash in 9.97 seconds.
Today (June 2) marks the 25th anniversary of Bailey competing at Abbotsford’s Rotary Stadium, which hosted the Harry Jerome Track Classic in 1996.
The very next month he would set a world record and win a gold medal in the 100m dash at the Atlanta Games with a time of 9.84. He also won gold as part of the 4X100m relay team that year.
His performance at the Games is considered one of the greatest ever by a Canadian athlete.
Bailey had a connection to Abbotsford in the mid-90s and frequently signed autographs at the local Volkswagen dealership at the time.
The star-studded 1996 meet also saw Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman win in both the women’s 100m and 200m races. She would go on to win silver in the 400m at the 1996 Games and then win gold in the 400m in her native Australia at the Sydney 2000 Games.
The 1996 event is the lone time the Harry Jerome Track Classic was hosted in Abbotsford. It has previously been held at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium, Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium, Coquitlam’s Perry Percy Stadium and Coquitlam’s Town Centre Stadium.