In the spring of 1956, four men, only one of whom had any rowing experience, were brought on as spares for the UBC/VRC eights crew coached by Frank Read. As part of their training, they were allowed to compete as a team at the 1956 Canadian Olympic trials in St. Catherines, Ontario.
At the trials, they astounded the rowing world, not just breaking the world 2000m record that had stood since 1928, but shattering the existing record by posting a time of six minutes 5.8 seconds—thirty seconds faster than the previous record time! Within a few short months, this ‘Cinderella Crew’ would claim Olympic gold over the world’s best fours crews.
Later that year, at the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, the UBC/VRC team, representing Canada, captured the gold medal with a time of seven minutes 8.8 seconds-–five lengths ahead of the second place Americans. This medal marked the first time Canada had won an Olympic gold medal in rowing.
All four members of the team went on to join the UBC/VRC eights crew that won gold at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales and silver at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
Don Arnold (stroke), Walter d’Hondt (3), Tom Gray (spare), Lorne Loomer (2), Archie MacKinnon (bow), Frank Read (coach), Glen Smith (spare), John Warren (assistant coach).
This team is also inducted in the UBC Sports Hall of Fame. For their UBC biography, please visit www.ubcsportshalloffame.com