The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Phil Edwards

Track & Field


Black and white action photo of Phil Edwards at the Berlin Olympics

Black and white action photo of Phil Edwards at the Berlin Olympics

Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

Man of Bronze

1936 Summer Olympics, Berlin, Germany. The ink on Dr. Phil Edward's medical diploma from McGill University was barely dry when he and Canada's Olympic team boarded a steamship in July of 1936 to set sail for the Summer Games in Berlin. Phil was already a veteran of two Olympics, holding four bronze medals. Admired for his outstanding sportsmanship, his teammates gave him the nod for Olympic track team captain.

Berlin was filled with excitement and tension. Hitler's plan to use the entire Games to promote the Nazi credo of a white master race was spoiled by American track star Jesse Owens' four gold medals and other black athletes including Edwards, who stood out brilliantly in Berlin.

Edwards and John Woodruff of the United States staged one of the most dramatic duels of the Games in the 800 metre final. Edwards took the lead off the gun and set the pace. A teammate remembers the race. "Woodruff was a huge man and he had a tremendous stride. It was interesting that he passed Phil, and then Phil passed him. And then down the backstretch on the second lap, it was rather amusing to watch, because all of a sudden these two bodies started to merge, and you could see one body but four legs. Woodruff eventually pulled ahead and Phil unfortunately couldn't quite hold onto second spot." He earned a bronze medal.

Edwards' running style was very bold. He exploded at the gun with fast starts often setting his own pace, running in front by himself. At the intercollegiate level he was unbeatable, but at the world class level his aggressive starts might have impaired his finishing kick. Regardless, he was a model of competitive consistency for 10 years. Competing at three successive Olympics he was one of the best that ever ran for Canada. One might also consider and give weight to the fact that most of Edwards' Olympic endeavours coincided with the rigors of medical school.

With five Olympic bronze medals, Edwards was aptly christened the "Man of Bronze." After 1936 Berlin, no male Canadian track athlete won a medal again until Tokyo in 1964.



Amsterdam Olympic Games - bronze medal in 4 x 400m relay
1931 - 1936
Led McGill track and field team to six consecutive Intercollegiate titles
Lake Placid Olympic Games - bronze medals in 800m, 1,500m, and 4 x 400m relay
British Empire Games - gold medal in 880-yard race
Berlin Olympic Games - bronze medal in 800m
First recipient of Lou Marsh Memorial Award
Lionel Conacher Award (Canada's Male Athlete of the Year)