One of the finest gentlemen to ever participate in amateur sports within the province, Grant Burnell’s extraordinary race walking career during the 1920’s earned him election to the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame.
Born in Trinity, it was in 1922 that Grant Burnell began his great race walking career by winning the two-mile turf race at St. George’s Field in St. John’s. He followed this up with a series of one and two mile race victories in 1923.
He advanced into distance walking in 1924, placing first in his initial ten-mile event and this encouraged him to enter competition outside of the province.
Grant Burnell won the well-known and very prestigious Halifax Herald 25-mile walk in 1926. He was second in the race in 1927 and regained first with a record time in 1929.
Dominating most of the race walking events in the St. John’s area, he travelled to races in Grand Falls and Bell Island for more victories.
An indication of Grant Burnell’s determination is demonstrated by the fact that he retired holding the record time for the ten-mile event. When his record was broken, he came out of retirement, trained extremely hard and diligently, and regained the record.
Besides his winning ability, sportsmanship was Grant Burnell’s best known trade mark. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word and his mild-mannered and victorious style gained him the respect of athletes and public alike.
In recognition of his outstanding race walking career, Grant Burnell was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame October 3, 1973.
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