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It was while growing up in Port Arthur that this multi-talented athlete developed the skills and passion for sport that would see her compete successfully from the high school to the world level. The 1971 and 1972 Hammarskjold High School Athlete of the Year she was a trailblazer for women in sport, unofficially running in the 1972 Times-Journal 10-Mile Road Race and as the first female to officially cross the line in 1975.

Attending the University of Guelph in 1972 she joined the cross country team and competed successfully in races throughout her university career. Returning to Thunder Bay in the late 1970s she focused on marathon running and consistently crossed the finish line ahead of the pack, and often as the first female, competing locally and in races in Minnesota, southern Ontario and Manitoba. When her goal of making it into the 1984 Olympic Trials in marathon running ended due to injuries, she turned her attention to the sport of triathlon.

Competing in the inaugural Fresh Air-Red Oak Triathlon held in 1984 which consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bicycle ride and 13.1 mile run she crossed the line as the top female, finishing 8th overall going on to dominate local triathlon and biathlon races throughout most of the 1980s. Representing her community with distinction in triathlons in the United States and throughout Canada from 1984-88 she consistently placed at or near the top of her category at such events as the Canadian Professional Triathlon, Canadian Triathlon Championships and Montreal World Triathlon. At the 1988 World Triathlon Championships held in Kelowna, an event featuring 650 competitors, she entered as a participant in the open professional category, instead of her age category, finishing 21st overall.

Taking up Masters cycling in 2004 she was soon back on the podium, claiming ITT provincial medals and representing Canada with distinction on the world stage. Winning a gold medal at the 2005 World Masters Games in the 50-54 category, she claimed bronze at the 2009 World Masters Cycling Championships in St. Johann, Austria in the 55 -59 age group. Racing on the UCI World Cycling Tour she earned a 3rd place finish (60-64) at the UWCT 2015 World Championships in Hobro, Denmark. The level of dedication exhibited by this successful athlete throughout her five decades of involvement in sport has made her a true role-model for athletes of all ages.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 29, 2018

Janet Sillman

Port Arthur/Thunder Bay
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