Charles Lionel Whitman
Born: January 11, 1931 (Montréal, Québec)
Died: April 27, 2014 (Omaha, Nebraska)
The Montreal strongman Lionel Whitman won university championships in the shot put and the discus. He came fifth in the shot put at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver.
Born in Montreal, he played halfback for West Hill High’s football team. The young athlete earned notice from the Montreal Gazette, which noted the “rubber-legged Whitman is another handy man to have around when the chips are down.”
In 1952, the McGill University student won the shot-put competition at the 45th annual intercollegiate track and field championships at London, Ont. His throw of 44 feet, six and five-eighths inches was just short of the national record. Whitman’;s effort helped McGill claim second place in the overall championship with 40 points, five behind the host University of Western Ontario. The University of Toronto (with 37 points), McMaster (26) and Queen’s (17) were the other top finishers.
In 1954, Whitman won the Eastern Canadian intercollegiate shot-put title with a throw 48 feet, 6 1/2 inches. He also took the discus title with a throw of 129 feet, 11 inches at Varsity Stadium in Toronto.
At the 1954 Empire Games, Whitman’s throw of 47 feet, 8 1/2 inches was well behind that of gold-medal winner, John Savidge of England, who threw 55 feet, 3/4 of an inch.
He won McGill’s Forbes Trophy that year as the athlete bringing the most credit to the university. In March, 1955, he shared the Hec Phillips Memorial Trophy with Dick Harding of Toronto for outstanding performance in the senior intercollegiate track and field championships.
After graduating, the geologist moved to Calgary in 1955 before transferring to Houston, Tex., in 1974. He retired in 1981.