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Bursting onto the Track and Field scene as a member of the Port Arthur Kiri Athletic Club, and competing under his Finnish name Yrjö Väätäjä, this exceptional athlete would soon be dominating shot putt, discus and javelin events from the local to the national level.

Making headlines in his first district competition in 1931, he broke the 16 pound shot putt and discus records, even though he was not fully recovered from an injury to his arm. Dominating the field events at the 1932 district championships, and competing under the name of George Wala, he set his sights on the national stage, making his way to the 1932 Dominion Championships and Olympic Trials in Hamilton. Garnering his first of what would be many national titles, he claimed gold in the javelin and a bronze in the shot putt.

Preparing for the 1933 Dominion Championships set for McKellar Park in Fort William, he shattered district records for shot putt and javelin and his discus record of 128 feet, 4 inches was recorded as still holding strong in 1972, close to 40 years later. To say that George was the star of the 1933 Dominion Championships would be an understatement. As the papers of the day reported he 'stole the thunder from track and field headliners from east and west' claiming three national titles in the discus, 16lb shot and javelin and a bronze in the hammer throw. Earning a total of 16 points he won individual honours at the national meet.

Competing in the Canadian Championships and British Empire Games Trials in Hamilton in 1934, George's first place showing in the 16 lb. shot put and a bronze medal performance in the javelin earned him a spot on the Canadian Team for the 1934 British Empire Games (the forerunner to the Commonwealth Games) held in London, England. Representing Canada with distinction, and serving as the team trainer, he competed against some of the finest athletes in the world. Placing 4th in the shot putt and discus and 6th in the javelin he earned the most points of any of the Canadian team members. Moving to Sudbury upon his return, he continued to participate, bringing home bronze and silver medals from the 1936 Canadian championships and gaining success later in life as a marksman, participating in pistol competitions, prior to his passing in 1973.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 29, 2001

George Wala

Track and Field
Port Arthur
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