Six members of Dalhousie University were recognized at the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame dinner on Thursday night to honour the top 15 Nova Scotian athletes of all-time.
“To see some of the folks honoured here tonight for their athletic accomplishments is wonderful for Dal, wonderful for Nova Scotia and certainly wonderful for our athletic department,” said Dalhousie’s Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation, Tim Maloney.
Five alumni and one current student were honoured.
Ellie Black is studying kinesiology at Dal and at 22-years old, she’s the youngest athlete to be ranked in the top 15. She finished fifth in individual gymnastics, All-Around in the 2016 Olympics which is Canada’s best result at the event. She also led team Canada in the vault and beam events in the 2012 Olympics at the age of 17.
Alumni Nancy Garapick (Bachelor of Arts in English, 1986) ranked in fourth place. Naming her as the top-ranked Dal alumni. She was a child prodigy and established a 200-metre backstroke world record at the age of 13. During her career, she won 38 Canadian Championship medals and won two bronze medals at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics.
Track and field athlete Aileen Meagher (Bachelor of Arts, 1993) was a Dal Tiger. She never ran competitively until she came to Dalhousie and joined the track and field team. By the time Meagher was 20, she was the Canadian record holder for the 100 and 220-yard events. She represented Canada at the 1932 and 1936 Olympics and won a bronze medal in the 400-yard relay during the 1936 games. A year earlier in 1935, she was named the Most Outstanding Canadian Athlete, which was rare for a female to win during that time period. She’s ranked eighth.
Three paddlers, Steve Giles (Bachelor of Science in physics, 1997; Bachelor of Engineering, 2002,; honourary Doctorate of Laws, 2005), Karen Furneaux (Bachelor of Science in kinesiology, 2000; Masters in science 2006) and Mark de Jonge (Bachelor of Engineering, 2009) were the Dal alumni honoured.
Canoeist, Steve Giles is ranked ninth. Giles competed in every summer Olympics from 1992 to 2004. His highest result was a bronze medal in the C-1 1000 metre event in the 2000 games. He won gold in the 1998 Seniors World Championships and the 1999 Pan Am Games.
“It is kinda nice, my career is long over and to know that it was recognized as people as something special-it has always been special to me-but it is always good to get recognition from external sources sometimes,” said Giles.
Karen Furneaux is ranked 11th. Furneaux is a two-time kayak world champion, a three-time Olympian, with her highest finish was fifth place in the K-2 500 metre event during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Mark de Jonge was ranked 14th. He won bronze during 2012 Olympics in the K-1 200 metre event, the next year he won World Cup gold, followed by the 2014 and 2015 World Championships gold. He also won a Pan Am Games gold and bronze in 2015.
“It’s a huge honour,” said de Jonge. “To be up there on the same table as Sidney Crosby (ranked first) is pretty special.”
Meagher and Garapick competed as Dalhousie Tigers, while Giles, Furneaux, de Jong and Black focused on competing at a national level. However, Giles says Dal helped him balance school and athletics while he was pursuing his physics and engineering degrees.
“Dal was always really good to me,” says Giles. “There was a lot of time in the winter where I was gone away, and my professors and administration were always there to support and help me work through those challenges and get through the program. I think it says a lot that so many great athletes can get through one school.”
Giles said he would have to train at 5 a.m. or 10 p.m. to fit it into his schedule. It was especially tough when he was working on his engineering degree. He said he sometimes took six courses at a time.
De Jonge also did engineering. “It was tough. Engineering is not really a degree that you do both,” he said with a laugh.
“It is no surprise that there is a few of us that have done school and sport. I believe you need to have balance in order to perform at the way you need to at the highest level,” said de Jonge. “It’s not really useful to feel it is all on the line and sport is all you have. For me, that education at Dalhousie gave me that balance in my life and gave me that career that is going to come after sport. ”
Dalhousie was also there for de Jong outside of the classroom.
“Racing at the World Championships or at the Olympics, you get a lot of support from the Dalhousie community.”
Other athletes honoured included figure skater Rob McCall, wheelchair sprinter Jamie Bone, softball player Mark Smith, marathon runner Johnny Miles, boxers George Dixon and Sam Langford. The top three included Hockey Hall of Famer Al MacInnis, curler Colleen Jones and the top-ranked athlete, Sidney Crosby.