Some people are just born to coach. Wynn Gmitroski is one of those.

Growing up near Tyndall, Manitoba northeast of Winnipeg, at age eight Wynn discovered a workout program in a Spiderman comic book ad. Not long after in a book-of-the-month club he found instructions for homemade barbells made from concrete and flour tins. Soon he was designing exercise sessions for himself and seeing amazing improvements in every sport he played. Although he wouldn’t formally begin coaching until after university, it set him on track to becoming one of Canada’s top athletics coaches over the past forty years.

While trying to find a profession to support his coaching ‘habit,’ he became a registered physiotherapist, which allowed him not just to coach top athletes but also to treat them.

After falling in love with Vancouver Island in his teens on a family vacation, Wynn vowed to come back to BC. In 1990, he got that chance moving out to work with the University of Victoria’s Brent Fougner, and soon establishing the Cedar Hill Sports Therapy Clinic that operated for nearly 25 years. Top athletes followed Wynn west including Angela Chalmers, who won a 3000m bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics shortly after.

Wynn also worked with other top Canadian middle distance runners like Gary Reed (2007 world championship 800m silver medalist), Diane Cummins (2002 Commonwealth Games 800m silver medalist), and Nate Brennan (2016 Olympics 1500m 10th place finisher) among many others. Pioneering altitude training in Arizona to great success, Wynn coached Canadian athletes at seven Olympics, 16 world championships (including indoor), and five Commonwealth Games. His athletes ran to 15 national records, four Commonwealth Games medals, two Pan American Games medals, and 19 top-ten world rankings or finishes at major championships.

Over the years Wynn’s reputation spread beyond Canada as he worked with elite athletes from Cirque du Soleil, the San Francisco 49ers, and the national athletics federations for the UK, Australia, and Spain.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

To read more on the career of Wynn Gmitroski, please see the September 2023 Curator’s Corner article here: