The local angle on a historical event

by Ruth Griffiths

On this day in 1908, a Canadian dentist, Cal Bricker, finished third in the broad jump at the Summer Olympic Games in London, England. Bricker later spent most of his professional career practicing dentistry in Grenfell, Sask. But the 1908 Olympics were notable for several other reasons.

The 1908 Olympics were hastily hosted by Great Britain due to a catastrophic event in Italy. According to Wikipedia, the 1908 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the IV Olympiad, were originally scheduled to be held in Rome, but were relocated on financial grounds following a disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906.

The Fourth Olympiad was also remarkable for its length. This international multi-sport event was held in London April 27 to Oct. 31, a total of 187 days, or six months and four days, making these games the longest in modern Olympics history.

Women competed in skating and tennis for the first time in 1908 in London. Female athletes first competed in the modern Olympics in the 1900 Games in Paris, France.

Canada did well at the 1908 Olympics. It was seventh in medal rankings, winning three gold, three silver and 10 bronze medals. By contrast, in the 2016 Summer Olympics, Canada ranked 20th in the medal count with four gold, three silver and 15 bronze medals.

Bricker was among 87 Canadians competing in London in 1908. Besides winning bronze in long jump, he finished fourth in the triple jump.

Bricker was a dentist, already known as “doctor” when he competed in London. He went on to win silver in long jump at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

Bricker was a 1907 graduate of University of Toronto. During the First World War served with a dental corps. He helped organize the 1919 Inter-Allied Games in Paris.

After the war, Bricker settled in Grenfell where he practiced dentistry. He died in 1963 at age 78.

Bricker was inducted into the University of Toronto, Saskatchewan and Canadian Sports Halls of Fame. Canadian athletes who excel in jumping activities are awarded the Cal D. Bricker Memorial trophy.

The next summer Olympics will be held in 2020 in Japan.