In 2011, the London Sports Hall of Fame inducted George Washington Orton. Some questioned the induction, questioning that soon subsided once Orton’s accomplishments were known. He was, without question, a great athlete and a great Canadian.
This year, TV sportscaster Mark Hebscher’s tribute to Orton hit the book stands … a celebratory profile of Canada’s first Olympic gold medallist, as described in Kobo’s promotional material, as follows:
“(Orton) couldn’t walk until he was ten, and became the greatest runner of his generation.
“Who was the first Canadian to Win an Olympic Gold Medal? When Mark Hebscher was asked this simple trivia question, he had no idea that it would lead him on a two year odyssey, researching a man he had never heard of.
“Paralyzed as a child and told he would never walk again, George Washington Orton persevered, eventually becoming the greatest distance runner of his generation, a world-class hockey player, and a brilliant scholar. A sports pioneer, Orton came up with the idea of numbered football jerseys and introduced ice hockey to Philadelphia. Orton’s 1900 Paris Olympic medals were credited to the United States for seven decades before the mistake was uncovered and rectified. Yet he is virtually unknown in Canada. Finally, his story is being told.”
Our tribute to Orton upon his posthumous induction to the London Sports Hall of Fame can be found under INDUCTEES, 2011.