OTD: Percy Williams sets new world track record

On today’s date in 1930, Percy Williams set a new world track record of 10.3 seconds for the 100-yard dash.

Despite the world record, Williams – and his athletic career – started on shaky ground. When he was 15 years old, he suffered from rheumatic fever and was advised to avoid strenuous physical activity; however, because his high school required participation in athletic competitions, he started training in sprinting in 1924.

By 1927, he was a local champion, and the following year, at the 1928 Olympic trials, he won both the 100- and 200-metre races, tying the Olympic 100-metre record of 10.6 seconds. He was also part of the Canadian team that was disqualified in the final of the 400-metre relay contest.

Percy Williams won both the 100- and 200-metre runs at the 1928 Olympics.

Williams won both the 100- and 200-metre runs at the 1928 Olympics.


After his 1928 Olympic outing, Williams continued to triumph, winning the 100-yard dash at the inaugural British Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games) in Hamilton, Ont., and setting a world record in nearby Toronto in 1930.

Unfortunately, at the British Empire Games, Williams suffered a pulled thigh muscle and never made a full comeback.

At the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, he was eliminated in the semi-finals of the 100-metre event.

Williams lived with his mother until she died in 1977, after which he lived alone and in pain, suffering from arthritis. A collector of guns, Williams later shot himself in the head with a gun he had been awarded for his 1928 Olympic feat.


In 1978, Williams was commemorated on a token alongside Bobby Robinson, founder of the Commonwealth Games.

The token was struck for that year’s Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton, Alta.

Leave a Reply

Canadian Coin News


Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Coin News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier coin publication. Canadian Coin News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.