OTD: Donovan Bailey wins gold at Centennial Olympic Games

On today’s date in 1996, Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey won a gold medal at that year’s Summer Olympics, where he set a new world record after running the 100-metre dash in 9.84 seconds.

Born in Manchester, Jamaica, in 1967, Bailey immigrated to Canada at the age of 13. He began competing in 100-metre competitions in 1991 at the age of 24; however, he didn’t commit to full-time training until about three years before his Olympic title run.

Bailey ran 12.10 metres a second in his gold medal-winning run—the fastest ever recorded by a human at that time, according to a 2008 story by The Independent. He beat the world record set by U.S. sprinter Leroy Burrell in 1994.

Frankie Fredericks, of Namibia, won the competition’s silver medal for the second consecutive Olympic Games while Trinidad and Tobago’s Ato Boldon won the bronze.

The race marked the first time no U.S. runner medaled in the 100-metre dash since 1976. U.S. sprinter Dennis Mitchell, who was the bronze medalist in 1992, placed fourth behind Boldon.

Defending gold medalist Linford Christie, of Great Britain, was disqualified after two false starts. It was his final major race before his retirement from sports the following year.

Canadian track and field legend Donovan Bailey (right) met with youth from Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring programs, which were commemorated on a 2013 Permanent stamp.


Bailey, who also works as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, took part in the unveiling of a Permanent stamp (Scott #2645) issued by Canada Post in 2013.

The stamp, which marked the 100th anniversary of Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, measures 24 millimetres by 32 millimetres with simulated perforations. Printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper using five-colour lithography, this issue is pressure sensitive and comes in booklets of 10 stamps.

An official first-day cover was cancelled in Toronto.

“The work of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada goes a long way to lend a helping hand and guidance where it’s needed most,” said then Conservative MP Steven Fletcher in 2013. “These volunteers change young lives every day and are beyond deserving of this recognition.”


The first Big Brothers agency was established in Canada in 1913, and the Big Sister program began around the same time before eventually merging into its present form. Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada provides mentoring programs to more than 1,000 Canadian communities through nearly 150 local agencies. Founded on one-to-one matching, the program finds men and women aged 18 and older to give their time to mentor to a child.

“We are delighted to commemorate the important milestone of celebrating 100 years of mentoring in Canada with the launch of a special stamp,” said Bruce MacDonald, former president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. “We thank Canada Post for the beautiful design, which we feel accurately reflects the value of mentoring in our communities.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters International, which has its headquarters in Philadelphia, Pa., was founded in 1998. Its mission is to promote and support the development of Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs throughout the world, including in Canada. This is done through consultation, training and offering materials and technical assistance to non-governmental organizations wishing to develop this mentoring model.

“The commitment to our children from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada is incredible,” said Deepak Chopra, then president and CEO of Canada Post.

“That spirit of community is always refreshing to see and this stamp recognizes the organization’s dedication to Canadian youth.”

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