Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Victor Emery
2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.
Victor Emery: Athlete, Bobsleigh
Bobsleigh was an unfamiliar sport to most Canadians until the mid-20th century. Training facilities were non-existent and travelling elsewhere to practice cost far too much. Victor Emery and his determined team forever changed the country’s stigma around bobsledding when they did the unexpected and won a Gold medal at the 1964 Olympic Winter Games.
Emery first became interested in the sport of bobsleigh when watching the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Olympics. Within a year, Emery’s curiosity and big dreams had spread to his athletic brother John. Together they founded the Laurentian Bobsledding Association.
It was in 1959 when Emery entered his first world championship in Lake Placid, New York. He kept a positive attitude despite placing close to last and continued to compete each year until the team moved their way up to fourth place in 1962.
The Canadian Olympic Committee refused to acknowledge the sport of bobsleigh, making training difficult for Emery. Without a single course available in the country, the team was forced to practice dry starts in gymnasiums and occasionally runs in New York.
Despite the less-than-ideal training facilities, Victor and John Emery along with their teammates Douglas Anakin and Peter Kirby were tough competitors in the Innsbruck 1964 Olympic Winter Games. The underdogs won Canada’s only Gold medal that year. Emery’s perseverance made the nation’s first-ever showing in Olympic Bobsledding one that won’t ever be forgotten.
Emery challenged himself to compete again at the World Championship in St. Moritz the following year. He said, “You’re not real champions unless you can do it a second time.” The new team consisting of Vic Emery, Peter Kirby, Gerald Presley and Michael Young shocked the world by walking away with the top prize.
Although retiring from the sport a few years after his second victory, Emery’s devotion and willpower throughout the mid-20th century helped pave the way for a bobsledding program in Canada. He proved the country was indeed a worthy competitor in the international bobsledding scene.
For more information, visit www.sportshall.ca.