Burlington has a proud history of athletic achievement among its’ citizenry but perhaps none more noteworthy than that of this modest Olympian. Born and raised in Burlington, John is another multi-talented athlete that participated in numerous sports while growing up.
At Aldershot High School where he excelled in cross country, track and field, and basketball, he also ran for the Burlington Legion Track and Field Club. As well, he participated in the Burlington International Games for two years in both track and basketball.
John is one of those athletes that didn’t find his real passion until moving on to university. He attended the University of Western Ontario and graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. It was here, at the age of 20 that he started rowing and, upon graduating, returned to Burlington to continue at the Hamilton Leander Rowing Club, where he was coached by fellow Burlington resident, Jim Roche, one of Canada's most distinguished and decorated lightweight scullers.
Rowing is both a team and an individual sport. It is a tough sport that requires the capacity for hard, unrelenting, often exhausting, work as well as dedication, sacrifice, courage, and selflessness.
John joined the Canadian National Rowing Team in 1985 and soon cemented his place on that team for the next seven years. He rowed on the 1985, 1986, 1987 World Championship teams and on the 1986 Commonwealth Games team. In 1988, John rowed with the National Team at the Seoul Olympics with the ‘eights’, where the team finished a respectable sixth.
In 1990 John moved to Victoria and joined the Victoria City Rowing Club to intensify his training and work out with other members of the Victoria-based National Team. In 1990 and 1991, as a member of the men’s eight crew, John won Silver at the World Championships. In 1992, after seven arduous years of training and commitment, John was a member of the National Team that won Gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. The team gained a measure of achievement and satisfaction with this victory by outlasting the defending Olympic and World Champion German crew to win the Gold Medal.
John may very well be the only Burlington athlete, born and raised in Burlington, to win a Gold Medal at the Olympics. With this crowning achievement, John moved on to the other side of rowing; coaching, and volunteering to help grow the sport. He coached at both middle and high schools in Victoria for a few years and also took on the role of Vice-President of Rowing BC from 1996 to 2000. Also, during this same period of time, John volunteered as Executive Director of Foundation 2000 Plus (currently called GO Rowing and Paddling), a not-for-profit organization that promotes rowing and paddling sports across Canada. John is currently on the Advisory Board for Shawnigan Lake School’s rowing program.
John Wallace personifies a true Olympic hero. He has never used this amazing accomplishment for any personal aggrandizement. He is the consummate team player and is the perfect ambassador for the sport of rowing and for Canada. We are extremely proud to include John Wallace alongside fellow inductees in the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame.