Old Boy Jim Worrall, who was among the greatest athletes ever to grace the halls of UCC, passed away last week at the age of 96. An Olympic athlete, he was the Canadian flag bearer when he competed with Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin Games.
I met with Jim a few years ago, and it was like talking to someone who had struck out Babe Ruth. You know such an individual must have existed at some point in the misty black and white past, but you never think you’ll actually have the opportunity to spend time with someone like him.
Two memories stand out from my conversation with Jim. After the Olympics he came back and taught at UCC for a few years, while he continued to train. He was later chosen to represent Canada in the Commonwealth Games, but the principal at the time refused to let him have the time off. (I guess UCC has always been a tough place to work!)
Jim also told me what a thrill it was to be the Canadian standard-bearer during the opening ceremonies in Berlin, and he vividly described what it was like to march within a few feet of Adolf Hitler. Years later he thought about what might have happened, if he had taken a run at Hitler with that flag-pole. “I might have changed the course of history!”