Achilles Builders Award

The Achilles Builders Award was created to recognize exceptional volunteers who have made significant contributions to the activities of the Society in organizing and hosting athletic events over an extended time. The recipients can be retired or still active members of Achilles. Six inaugural recipients for 2022 were presented their award by Doug and Diane Clement and Dennis Hoy at an Achilles Celebration event on December 5th.

Each year the Achilles International Track & Field Society (Achilles or Society) Board will endeavour to recognize and celebrate one or more Achilles Board members or volunteers with the “Achilles Builders Award.”

Criteria for Award
The Award is to recognize exceptional Achilles members who have made a significant volunteer contribution to the activities of the Society in organizing and hosting athletic events over an extended time.  The winner can be a retired or still active volunteer member of Achilles.

Selection Method for Award
A small subcommittee of Achilles each year will consult with the past winners of the Builders Award, consider a list of worthy volunteer nominees (past and current nominations). A form for nominations is available. The subcommittee will recommend the name(s) of that years’ honorees to the Board.

Approval of Award
Approval by resolution of the Achilles Board each year.

Form of Award
At a minimum a framed letter/certificate signed by the Achilles Chair and/or Chair Emeritus.  Plus, ideally a small gift of art, craft or picture. For example, the picture of Harry Jerome statue would tie well to Achilles and what we do.A listing on the Harry Jerome website of Achilles Builders Award recipients listed by year, which may include a short write up for each.

Celebration of the Award
A presentation at an Achilles annual event such as a dinner or reception. Explain the history of Achilles, criteria for award and ongoing nature of award Ideally include a handout summarizing winners’ years of service, roles held, and highlight few key volunteer memories for them.

Inaugural 2022 Award Winners for Approval by Achilles Board:
1. Leslie Abramson
2. Anne Elizabeth Cliff
3. Brian Pound
4. Carl Savage
5. Gerry Swan
6. Kim Young

Inaugural recipients in 2022 were approved by the Achilles International Track & Field Society Board on November 28th. The awards were presented at the Achilles Celebration Dinner on December 5th, by Doug and Diane Clement and Dennis Hoy.

LESLIE ABRAMSON

Since joining as a committee/Board member some 40 years ago, Leslie has been Achilles’ go-to girl.

You could find her working at VIP receptions, meet and hotel registrations, arranging volunteer meals at both indoor and outdoor meets, overseeing any tiny problems that had to be solved.

Leslie was also a BC record holder in the shot put as a member of the Burnaby Striders under the coaching of Achilles original member the late Don Steen. Such was her talent that one year she was nominated for BC Athlete of the Year. Her opponent was a sprinter named Harry Jerome.  “I never stood a chance,” she recently recalled.

A memory that stands out?

She was part of the staging team in Richmond for the Canadian team travelling to the 1988 Seoul South Korean Olympic Games and remembers sprinter Ben Johnson refusing to take his Canadian team jersey with him. It was produced by the company he was not sponsored by.Rule one: You cannot participate at the Games if you are not wearing your country’s official jersey. Realizing the urgency to get the team colors to the Seoul Games, Leslie shipped the uniform to Diane Clement who was Canada’s Chef de Mission for the Games. It arrived in time and Ben wore it after a talk with Diane. We all know the outcome of his performance don’t we.Leslie says during her years with track and field she met some wonderful people and made some good friends and will always have those wonderful memories in her heart.

ANNE ELIZABETH CLIFF *
 
*1950-2020 (Written by husband Brian)   

What does it take to become an “overnight success”? Answer, years of hard work, dedication and training, and a pivotal event that thrusts you into the limelight. No one—AND I MEAN NO ONE—anticipated the events that suddenly brought Anne to the attention of the Canadian track and field community.

Anne Covell joined the Richmond track and field club in 1966 and in that year posted some impressive sprint times. In 1967, with Coach Diane Clement’s encouragement and tutelage, Anne added the 400m to her repertoire. In the 1968 season, a careful observer should have seen what Anne recognized. “Every time I stepped on the track my times were faster.” At the Canadian Championships and Olympic Trials in Toronto, Anne had dropped her 400m time an incredible 3.6 seconds to 56.0 seconds. On Saturday, August 10, the day after her 18th birthday, Anne stepped off the track having shaved another full second of her personal best, run the second fastest time by a Canadian woman, met the qualifying Olympic standard of 55 seconds and earned a spot on Canada’s 1968 Mexico Olympic team.Anne became Doug and Diane’s first Olympian and her performance in Mexico was outstanding. In a very strong heat, Anne finished fifth, and although she didn’t advance, her time of 54.3 seconds set a new Canadian record, which would stand for another eight years.

Anne continued to compete internationally before retiring in 1972 to pursue a teaching career. As a high school Phys Ed teacher, and later a Counsellor, Anne always coached track and numerous team sports. When she retired in 2007, she continued to give back to the sport and the sporting community that had given her so much by contributing an increasing amount of time to Achilles. She became a Board member and integral part of Diane’s “A Team.” This meant taking on any and all tasks required to contribute to the success of the Society’s indoor and outdoor meets, media and social events.If Anne was standing before you, I believe she would say: “Thank you. Considering the enormous contributions my fellows recipients tonight have made to Achilles and the support they have given to the Canadian track and field community, I am truly in exalted company.”

BRIAN POUND
[Pictures to come in Jan. 2023 as unable to attend dinner ceremony]

In 1964, the Province newspaper became the major sponsor of the inaugural Achilles meet and assigned Brian, their track and field reporter, to promote the meet. Unheard of today, he was given a private office and told his only job was to provide one feature story a day on the meet and then two stories a day as the meet got closer. That was the beginning of his association with Achilles. He would continue to cover Achilles meets over the years, and on two occasions still as a reporter, he was the announcer at the first two Achilles indoor meets at the Pacific Coliseum.

Funny story: At the first Pacific Coliseum meet, Achilles gave away an expensive watch as a door prize and Brian was to announce the winner. He was handed the winning name and without glancing at the name first read it off. It was his father.

In 1964, the Province newspaper became the major sponsor of the inaugural Achilles meet and assigned Brian, their track and field reporter, to promote the meet. Unheard of today, he was given a private office and told his only job was to provide one feature story a day on the meet and then two stories a day as the meet got closer. That was the beginning of his association with Achilles. He would continue to cover Achilles meets over the years, and on two occasions still as a reporter, he was the announcer at the first two Achilles indoor meets at the Pacific Coliseum.

Funny story: At the first Pacific Coliseum meet, Achilles gave away an expensive watch as a door prize and Brian was to announce the winner. He was handed the winning name and without glancing at the name first read it off. It was his father.

After a three year stay in Toronto as the Telegram’s night sports editor, Brian returned to BC and once again hooked up with Achilles and has been a Committee/Board member for many years, until stepping down this year.

Brian’s main task for Achilles was to act as a Media Co-Ordinator, working with media covering the event, and then to do wrap up stories on the meet for the Achilles web page.

Earlier on, Brian accompanied Doug Clement to Budapest to conduct a meeting with Soviet officials to bring their Olympic track and field team to Vancouver for an indoor meet. The meeting was successful, but the meet wasn’t. It was given up for not being able to find a sponsor and was eventually held in Montreal.

And then there was Harry Jerome. Brian says he has many fond highlight memories as a reporter, but the ones that stand out was being there to cover Harry when he either tied or broke five of his seven World records. And being in Jamaica to cover Harry’s 100 yard victory at the Commonwealth Games (his first major International victory), as well as the Portland indoor Games where Harry tied the World indoor 60 yard mark. This was a feat his coach Bill Bowerman told Brian was the greatest comeback in track and field history.

As a give-back to all his years with Achilles, Brian, along with talented Achilles photographer Brian Cliff, is currently completing a book telling the history and story of Achilles and other track and field adventures.

CARL SAVAGE

Carl notes that his volunteering with Achilles, Kajaks, BC Athletics and Canada are all intertwined and merge into one another. But it all started in the 1967/8 school year when Kim Young invited him to join the Richmond Track Club. Here he met Doug and Dianne Clement and was welcomed into the “Kajak” family. And so began 55 years of volunteering!

Kim and Carl worked as a team, Kim as Meet Director and Carl as Assistant Meet Director.  He described that his role often included obtaining equipment at the last minute – and just doing whatever it takes!There are so many Achilles highlights over the years, for Carl and he chose these two. In 1984, 400M Hurdler Lloyd Guss made Canada’s Olympic team at the Achilles “Last Chance Meet” in Swangard Stadium, qualifying by one tenth of a second. He joined Lynn Kanuka who won Bronze at the Los Angeles Olympics.  This was followed by the agony in 1988, when Lloyd missed qualifying for his third Olympics by 1/100th of a second.  Fast forward to the Jerome meet in 2018, where Achilles conceived and hosted the China-Canada Sprint Challenge. Once again Achilles provided a platform for Canada’s national team.  He noted, “It’s always been about the athletes and giving them the best opportunity to compete and improve.”

Carl’s love of sports started in the UK at his Grammar School where he competed in the Long Jump,100m, Javelin and Rugby. In university he played Soccer, which he continued when he came to B.C.  But Track became his major focus, and he says he was “honoured to represent Canada as a coach in many International Games”.

Carl’s coaching resume is impressive. Over 40 years his coaching roles included the 1980, 1984 and 1988 Olympic teams, and in the 1980’s the Pan Am and Commonwealth Games.  He also was the Sprints and Hurdles coach at the Richmond Kajaks for 33 years and Ocean Athletics for seven, while overlapping with coaching the UBC Track team for 27 years. 

GERRY SWAN

Gerry will forever be known as the man who saved Achilles.

Just days before the inaugural Achilles meet in 1964, Gerry convinced the committee to buy rain insurance. Well, it did rain, and it didn’t stop for most of the morning prior to meet time. The decision saved Achilles from financial ruin.

Gerry’s resume is impressive, and he has seen it all as an athlete, coach and administrator. One of only three survivors from the original Achilles committee (Doug Clement and Kim Young are the others), Gerry at times has acted as a Meet Director, President and Vice-President of Achilles and the Society’s Secretary

For a short time, Gerry also served as the chairperson of the BC Track and Field Association.

As a coach, Gerry was instrumental in creating one of the most talented track and field clubs, not only in BC but Canada as well, the Valley Royal Club out of his hometown, Abbotsford.

Gerry was also a runner of note, winning a host of races from the 880 yds. to two miles. At the 1951 Canadian Junior Championships in Toronto, Gerry won the two mile event and won the trophy for Performance of the Meet. While attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, Gerry qualified four straight years for the NAIA national championships finishing second in the two mile run twice.

Of all the Achilles outdoor meets staged over the years, the second one in 1965 sticks out the most. Gerry was acting as Meet Director and the highlight event was the men’s mile with a truly international field highlighted by New Zealand’s great Peter Snell, who was on a World Fairwell tour. The crowd was big with 10,000 spectators turning out to see one of the greatest milers of all time perform. He didn’t. He wasn’t feeling well and finished the race in last place! Afterwards Snell asked Gerry if he could address the crowd to apologize for his performance. It brought a standing ovation.

Gerry sums it all up this way: “My participation first as a competitive runner followed by the roll of volunteer within track and field has allowed me to find purpose in ways that would not have been possible without that involvement.”

KIM YOUNG
Due to poor health, Kim was unable to attend the Celebration dinner.
The award was accepted from Dennis Hoy, by his daughter Gaby, wife Faye and son Ryan.

Kim and Achilles grew up together.

The Richmond native has been associated with Achilles for 58 years, beginning in 1964 and for more than four decades has played a major role in the development of not only the Society, but track and field in general.

Beginning in 1970, Kim took over the roles of Meet Director at both Achilles indoor and outdoor meets, giving it up once Covid caused a pause to outdoor meets.

Kim could also coach. In 1979 and 1981, he was selected Head Coach of the Canadian team for the Pan American Games, and in 1987 Head Coach for the Canadian women’s team in an International competition against powerful East Germany.

If you ask him, he’d tell you his greatest joy is the lifetime friendships that grew from his Achilles family. Athletes of all ages and abilities who have reconnected with him as the year’s passed have reminded him of the impact he had on them. This includes Tinker Allester, Ken Blaschuk and Dennis Hoy.

Since Kim began coaching track and field with Richmond Kajaks in the mid 60s, he has been committed to ensuring the development of each of his athletes. This passion for development has brought him great joy.

And all this, from a true gentleman who started out as a basketball player.