On behalf of the entire Triathlon Canada Nation, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Les McDonald who passed away on September 4 at the age of 84.
Les McDonald simply was triathlon in Canada.
Not only was McDonald responsible for getting the sport into the Olympic Summer Games, but he was the inaugural president of Triathlon Canada (1984-1996), and headed up the International Triathlon Union (1989-2008). His efforts in pioneering the sport in Canada were recognized in 2013 at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall by the Right Honourable Governor General, David Johnston who honored McDonald with the Order of Canada.
“When Simon Whitfield crossed the finish line in Sydney to win the first Olympic gold medal awarded in men’s triathlon, it was a day of sweet validation,” said Les Pereira, president, Triathlon Canada. “Not only did a Canadian make history by winning the first event, but Les’ baby – the sport of triathlon – was on the Olympic stage following many tireless years of building and guiding its development around the world. Now, nearly two decades later, the sport has been welcomed into the Paralympic program and has evolved into multiple race distances and formats for athletes at all levels. This evolution has Les’ stamp on it.”
McDonald’s work in the community extends far beyond the sport of triathlon. He was part of the group that founded Whistler, building its first ski lift, helping construct the first power line in from Squamish, even serving on the unsuccessful Vancouver-Garibaldi Olympic bid in the mid-1960s. The network of cross-country ski trails near the Whistler village are his work, where one challenging trail’s jump bears his name “Les’ Leap.”
McDonald began competing in marathons in the 1970s and to spice up training, he and some friends discovered triathlon, tried one in California, and brought the sport back to Vancouver. In 1981, the first triathlon ever held in Canada took place at Vancouver’s Spanish Banks; swimming in the ocean, biking around the University of BC and running to Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.
McDonald dedicated his life to promote and grow our sport – athletes, coaches and officials around the world are forever grateful for his tireless efforts.
Rest in peace Mr. McDonald – you will always be in our hearts.
For more on McDonald’s life and contributions, please read the following obituary http://www.triathlon.org/news/article/itu_honorary_president_les_mcdonald_dies_at_84_years_of_age