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McNaughton Duncan

Duncan Anderson McNaughton
Sport: Track & Field
Year Inducted: 1968

1932 Olympic Champion gold medalist Duncan Anderson McNaughton was born in Cornwall in 1910, the only child of a civil engineer and a teacher. He became an outstanding track and field star, and one of the pioneers of Canadian sport at the early Olympic Games.

For his exceptional athletic talent, he has been inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1949, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1966, and the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame in 1968.

Duncan was raised in Vancouver, attending the King Edward School, a school that produced many other famous persons, and then he went to college in California.

At the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, at age 21 and competing for Canada, he won the gold medal and became Olympic Champion in the Men’s high jump, an event that lasted well over three hours. McNaughton’s gold medal was an even more illustrious victory for Canada, since it was only one of two won by Canadians at that Olympics, the other being Horace Gwynne in Bantamweight Boxing.

At the time, Duncan was attending the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and his good friend and fellow student Bob Van Osdel who was representing the USA were competing in the same event. The bar was set at 1.97m, and Van Osdel gave advice to McNaughton to improve his jumping technique. McNaughton cleared the bar and won the gold medal with Van Osdel claiming the silver medal.

In 1933, Duncan’s gold medal was stolen from his car, and in the true spirit of friendship Van Osdel created a mold of his silver medal, poured gold into the mold, and forwarded the resulting gold medal replica onto Duncan. The two were friends for life until Van Osdel’s death in 1987.

In 1933, still a student of USC, at the United States National Collegiate Track and Field Championships, McNaughton became the high jump champion tied with Vincent Murphy of Notre Dame at 6 feet, four inches with a California-record jump.

Prior to that, at the first-ever 1930 Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games) he was fourth in the high jump. He then retired from sport competition.

Eighty years later, McNaughton still holds the distinction of being the only Canadian man to ever win an Olympic high jump gold medal.

At age 87, Duncan Anderson McNaughton passed away at his home in Austin, Texas in 1998.