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Tom Longboat

Full name: Thomas Charles "Tom" Longboat
Other name(s): Cogwagee
Nickname(s): The Streak of Bronze
Gender: Male
Height: 5-8.5 (175 cm)
Weight: 146 lbs (66 kg)
Born: June 4, 1887 in Six Nations Reserve, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Died: January 9, 1949 in Six Nations Reserve, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Affiliations: Brantford
Country: CAN Canada
Sport: Athletics


One of Canada's most famed track and field athletes, Tom Longboat was a member of the Onondaga Nation of the country's First Nations people. His first sport of choice was lacrosse, but he soon took up running and entered his first race in 1905, finishing second. From that point he began a string of victories, including one at the 1907 Boston Marathon, where he improved upon the course record by over five minutes. Both American and Canadian athletics organizations expressed qualms about his amateur status, but he was allowed to compete for Canada in the 1908 Olympic marathon, where he entered as the favorite, despite his club having to pay his way to London, since he was not selected officially by the Canadian Olympic Committee. He ran the first 20 miles of the 26.2 mile course but, while positioned in second place, he collapsed from exhaustion and failed to finish.

Undeterred, by the end of 1908 Longboat had turned professional and, the following year, became World Champion. His career declined somewhat after this point, a deterioration that was aided by disputes with his managers, but he continued to win races and set records on a regular basis, including the 15-mile world record in 1912. In 1916 he signed up to serve his country during World War I and took advantage of his natural talents to act as a dispatch runner with the 107th Pioneer Battalion. He was wounded twice, but survived the conflict and came back to Canada in 1919, only to find that his wife had married another man upon hearing erroneous reports of his death overseas. By the time of his return, professional racing was a dying spectator sport and soon he found himself working odd jobs and living in Toronto until his 1944 retirement. Among these occupations was a stint with the Veterans Guard near Brantford, Ontario during World War II. He died in 1949 and, two years later, the Tom Longboat Award was inaugurated "to reward excellence in sport and physical activity among First Nations athletes". He is also a member of Canada's Sport, the Ontario Sports, and the Canadian Indian Halls of Fame, and, since 2008, June 4 in Canada has been known as "Tom Longboat Day".

Personal Best\: Mar – 2-24:24 (1907).


Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1908 Summer 20 London Athletics Men's Marathon Canada CAN AC DNF [20 miles]

Men's Marathon

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank
1908 Summer 20 London Athletics Canada Final Standings AC DNF [20 miles]
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