Larry O'Connor

Larry O'Connor

In his 1990 induction to the University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame Larry O’Connor was cited as “the outstanding hurdler in Canada during the 1930’s setting many Canadian records”. “Larry” was born in Toronto on September 22, 1916. When Larry was 13, his father was appointed to the bench as County Court Judge of Northumberland and the family moved to Cobourg where Larry enrolled at Cobourg Collegiate Institute (CCI). Larry’s reputation as an extremely talented athlete preceded him and he immediately began training with fellow Cobourg resident Art Ravensdale – a hurdler already setting records. Larry was chosen for further training at the Ontario Athletic Commission Camp on Lake Couchiching where he distinguished himself by being the first boy to swim to an island one mile away. He competed at track meets in the area. 

After graduating from CCI in 1934 Larry attended the University of Toronto. He joined the Toronto West End YMCA Club and the Varsity Blues Intercollegiate Track and Field Championship Team where he trained alongside Jim Worrall. Both competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Summer Games. In the 110m hurdles Olympic final Larry would finish in sixth-place establishing a personal best time of 14.8 seconds. After the Olympics, Larry’s career took off as he went on to set Canadian records in the 110-meter-high hurdles, the 120-yard-high hurdles, and the 220-yard low hurdles. In 1937, at the annual Maple Leaf Gardens Track Meet, Larry set a new world indoor record in the 60-yard-high hurdles. At the 1938 British Empire Games, held in Sydney, Australia, Larry was a gold-winning member of the 4x110 yard relay team and a silver medalist in the 120-yard-high hurdles with a time of 14.2 seconds, the third-fastest in the world that year and a Canadian record that stood until 1963. 

A year later, Larry raced to a time of 14.8 seconds in the 110-metre-high hurdles, setting a new Canadian record that stood until 1964. Larry was awarded the Norton Crow Memorial Trophy (for the Canadian Amateur Athlete of the Year) and the John W. Davies Trophy (for the Outstanding Track Athlete of the Year). He was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame in 1967, Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1968, University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and Athletics Ontario Hall of Fame in 2013.

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