It was just a matter of time before Michael Smith received the call.
It came recently when the former decathlete was informed that he would join several other illustrious Canadian track and field athletes in the sport’s Hall of Fame.
Ranked in the world top ten for a decade, the three-time Olympian won silver medals at the 1991 and 1995 world championships and was Canada’s flag bearer at the 1992 Olympic Games opening ceremony.
He said that was one of the highlights of a glittering career.
“What a great honour (to carry the flag),” said Smith from his Calgary residence. “Winning the Commonwealth Games on home soil in Victoria in 1994 stands out as does winning the Gotzis International decathlon on two occasions in 1991 and 1996. This event is, in my opinion, the most respected decathlon event and truly unique in its historical context.”
Completing his last year of high school at Central Tech after residing in Kenora, Smith – who was guided to the sport by Andy Higgins – attended the University of Toronto before relocating to Calgary in 1994. He holds the Canadian decathlon record with a total of 8, 626 points, set in Austria in 1996.
Shortly after retiring from the sport 14 years ago, Smith landed a TV gig.
“CBC contacted me a few months after I retired from athletics,” said Smith, who singled out late commentator, Don Wittman, as his mentor/coach in the industry. “It was not really in my thoughts initially, but it was the thought of several people at CBC that I would be capable of commenting on the large variety of sports in track and field because I would have first-hand experience with many of the events. I very much enjoy staying in touch with my sport this way. I am not really a fan of sports, but I can honestly say I am a great fan of track and field and very often as an analyst, I get to experience the sport from the best seats in the stadium and share my thoughts with millions of Canadians.”
Smith and his family live in Calgary, where he’s an investment advisor at Peters & Company Ltd. Prior to joining the firm, he was a managing director of private client services at Thomas Weisel Partners/Stifel Nicolaus Canada and an investment advisor at J.F. Mackie & Company.
He said sport prepared him for life after retirement.
“Many lessons and disciplines are gained on the field of play and competition,” said Smith, who is also a CTV analyst. “Real life is different than the controlled environment of sport though as there are many variables and unknowns. The best lesson that sport can deliver to any young athlete is to help them learn about themselves under a multitude of different scenarios, including victory, defeat, stress, elation and how you react under these many scenarios. This was good preparation for dealing with the financial markets.”
Mark Boswell, considered one of Canada’s greatest high jumpers, is also among the new additions to Athletics Canada Hall of Fame.
An Olympic Games finalist, double world championship medallist and a 1999 Pan American Games gold medallist, Boswell was the first Canadian to win a gold medal at the world junior athletics championship. He holds the national outdoor record of 2.35 metres, which he set in 1999 and equalled in 2002 and two years later.
“I am extremely thankful to receive this honour of being inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Jamaican-born Boswell, who was inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. “I thank everyone who has supported me throughout the years.”
Guyanese-born Phil Edwards, who studied at New York University before accepting an invitation from Canadian Olympic track and field manager, Bobby Robinson, to represent Canada at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, will be inducted posthumously.
The first Caribbean-born Canadian track and field athlete won a bronze medal as a member of the 4 x 400-metre relay team and went on to capture more bronze in three events – the 800, 1,500 and 4 x 400-metre events in Los Angeles four years later – and the 800-metre race in Berlin in 1936.
Edwards, the first Black gold medal winner at the 1934 British Empire Games (Commonwealth Games) in London, graduated from McGill University in the 1930s and was a house surgeon at the General Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados, where he established a global reputation as a tropical diseases expert.
After retiring from track where he also set 13 national records, Edwards served as Chef de Mission of the British Guiana team at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and Canada’s national team physician a decade later. He was also a Canadian Army captain and in 1936, was the first winner of the Lou Marsh trophy, presented to Canada’s top athlete.
Edwards died in 1971 at age 64 and the Phil Edwards Memorial Trophy was created the next year and presented annually for the past four decades to Canada’s outstanding track athlete.
The induction banquet, which takes place on June 20 in Moncton, New Brunswick, will also honour Athletics Canada’s 2012 award winners, including Olympic hurdler, Phylicia George and two-time Coach of the Year, Anthony McCleary.