In the early 1900s, Billy Sherring from Hamilton, Ontario was acknowledged to be the world premier marathoner. He had won a second place behind a fellow countryman Jack Caffery at the Boston Marathon in 1900. He also had won the Hamilton Round-the-Bay Marathon on two occasions.
In 1906, Sherring was chosen to represent Canada in the Athens Olympic Games. However, it was left up to him, a working man with meager resources (he was a brakeman at the Grand Trunk Railway), to finance his journey to Athens. Sherring managed to collect an amount claimed to be between $45 and $90 (a clearly insufficient amount to travel to Athens), which he then bet on a horse named Cicely which luckily won with good odds. He arrived to Athens seven weeks before the Olympic Games and started to work as a porter at the Athens railway station.
At the marathon race, the 98lb Sherring led almost all the distace. Prince George of Greece ran the last 50 metres of the marathon alongside Sherring. Sherring received a live lamb and a statue of Athena as a reward. When he returned to Canada, Hamilton City Council awarded him $5000 and the City of Toronto awarded him a further $400.
Upon his triumphant return from the Marathon, Sherring quit athletics and worked as a Customs Officer in Hamilton until his retirement in 1942.
After his death, his original claim-to-fame, the Around the Bay Road Race was renamed to the Billy Sherring Memorial Road Race, and Hamilton has since built a Billy Sherring Park to commemorate their most famous athlete.
|Olympic medalists in athletics (men) | Olympic Champions in Men's Marathon|
|Spiridon Louis | Michel Théato | Thomas J. Hicks | William Sherring | Johnny Hayes | Kenneth McArthur | Hannes Kolehmainen | Albin Stenroos | Boughera El Ouafi | Juan Carlos Zabala | Sohn Kee-chung | Delfo Cabrera | Emil Zátopek | Alain Mimoun | Abebe Bikila (twice) | Mamo Wolde | Frank Shorter | Waldemar Cierpinski (twice) | Carlos Lopes | Gelindo Bordin | Hwang Young-Cho | Josia Thugwane | Gezahegne Abera | Stefano Baldini|