Hunt continues for Canada's Olympic history


By Paul Mayne
Thursday, January 14, 2010
While Bob Barney has a keen interest in the athletes representing Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, his academic curiosity is for Olympic athletes from a century ago - the members of Canada’s first Olympic team in 1908.
ICOS founder Bob Barney continues collecting the names from Canada's first Olympic team.
The founder of Western’s International Centre for Olympic Studies, Barney has been working for almost a year to put a name to every athlete shown in a one-of-a-kind photograph the centre received last year.
That hard work has been paying off - he needs to match just four or five names to the faces. In postcard form, the photo came to light when Toronto resident David Parkes found the picture – which was supposed to include his uncle Robert Parkes – in a box of old family photos.  
“The challenge is in finding it (Olympic history),” says Barney, who has published about 250 pieces on sport history. His best known work is the seminal study of Olympic commercialism and his 2003 award-winning book, Selling the Five Rings: The International Olympic Committee and the Rise of the Olympic Commercialism (with Stephen Wenn and Scott Martyn).
“And when you find out that piece of information, that one extra tidbit of information, that’s what’s exhilarating. It brings you as close to history as you can get without actually being there.”
Barney has received assistance from family members of the athletes and will get to meet several of them this month at a gathering for the J. Howard Crocker Olympic Studies Lecture on Jan. 29.
Barney, a self-proclaimed “cobweb pusher”, says he feels quite at home talking about Olympic history. Whether exploring the book shelves of public libraries or the dusty attics in private residences, there is nowhere the world-renowned Olympic historian won’t go to ferret out the facts.
While this hard work almost always pays off personally, it has now been recognized publically with the International Society of Olympic History’s highest award, the Pierre de Coubertin Award, for lifetime scholarship and achievements in the advancement of knowledge of the Modern Olympic Movement.
Barney will receive the award in Vancouver on the eve of the 2010 Olympic Games.

Barney has served as president of the North American Society for Sport History, was an executive council member for the International Society of the Olympic History and continues to lecture and teach around the world.
Crocker Lecture
The 20th annual J. Howard Crocker Olympic Studies Lecture, which has been delivered by outstanding international scholars over the years, will be held Jan. 29 (3 p.m.) at the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Health Sciences Building (Room 236). Guest lecturer and University of Toronto professor Bruce Kidd will speak about the Canadian Olympic Committee’s second century. His lecture is entitled Beyond the Podium. 

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