OTD: Donovan Bailey wins gold at Centennial Olympic Games

On today’s date in 1996, Jamaican-Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey took home 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 1967 in Manchester, Jamaica, 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 previous 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 Olympics while Trinidad and Tobago’s Ato Boldon took home 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 retiring from sports a year later.

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

BIG BROTHERS, BIG SISTERS

In 2013, while working as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bailey unveiled a Permanent stamp (Scott #2645) commemorating the non-profit federation’s charity work.

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

“Every kid needs a mentor,” Bailey has said in past interviews. “Everybody needs a mentor.”

An official first-day cover was also serviced with a Toronto cancel as part of the 2013 issue.

“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.”

MENTORS

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, then 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, headquartered 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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