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Exhibiting the attributes of a truly all-round athlete at a young age, this Hammarskjold High School Senior Athlete of the Year was involved in practically every sport offered at his Port Arthur alma mater. Claiming an individual silver medal at the 1967 OFSSA championships in the 183 lb division he also claimed team gold.

His talents on the gridiron earned him an invitation to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football camp and a scholarship offer from Wisconsin State University.

Choosing instead to remain in Canada George spent a year at the College Militaire Royale de St. Jean before moving on to the University of Waterloo. Involved in many sports at U of W, he eventually chose to focus specifically on his wrestling, specializing in the 90kg freestyle class. His record of success in national university competitions included a CIAU gold medal in 1970 and silver in 1972.

At national matches he also enjoyed success, earning double silver while competing in the Greco-Roman and Freestyle events at the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association championships in 1971. In 1972 he claimed the national crown at the Canadian Open and earned a spot on the Canadian Olympic Wrestling Team.

Stepping onto the wrestling mat for his first Olympic bout in Munich, George entered the history books as the first wrestler from northwestern Ontario ever to compete at an Olympic Games. Claiming victory by pinning his opponent at the 2:35 mark of the first round made the accomplishment that much sweeter. His 2nd match-up resulted in an 8-5 loss and unfortunately caused further damage to his already injured knee which left his coaches no choice but to force him to withdraw from the competition.

Rounding out his competitive wrestling career with a bronze medal performance at the Canadian Open championships in 1973, he returned to northwestern Ontario remaining active in athletics as a participant and as a high school teacher and coach for close to 30 years.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 27, 2003

George Saunders

Thunder Bay
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