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Montreal Olympics: Greg Joy jumps for silver

Montreal's unforgettable '76 Olympics had more ups and downs than a high jump competition. From out-of-control financial disasters and controversial political boycotts, to Nadia Comaneci's "perfect 10" and Canadian high jumper Greg Joy's exciting final jump — Montreal's Games had Canadians on the edge of their seats. CBC Archives looks back at the 1976 Olympics: their preparations, their competitions and their continued impact on Montreal.

On the second-last day of the Games, Canadian high jumper Greg Joy wins silver. Canadians are ecstatic because Joy beat his smug American rival Dwight Stones, who had reportedly insulted French Canadians earlier that week.

In this 1977 clip from CBC's 90 Minutes Live, Joy relives that exciting jump. He tells Peter Gzowski that the booing war between the Canadians and Americans in the crowd made it seem "like a hockey game instead of a high jump competition." 
• During the week prior to the high jump competition, Californian high jumper Dwight Stones was quoted in several newspapers as saying he disliked French Canadians. He blamed them for bungling the Olympic preparations.

• As a result, the high jump competition became what newspapers called "the battle of the boos." Canadian audiences were booing Stones every time he jumped, which prompted the many Americans in the audience (one newspaper estimated that more than half of the crowd was American) to react by booing every time a Canadian high jumper competed. This began during the qualifying round, and continued into the final competition the next day.

• Besides Greg Joy, there were two other Canadians in the competition: Claude Ferragne and Robert Forget. Both were French Canadians. Only Ferragne and Joy made it to the finals, but Ferragne missed a jump earlier on. This left the U.S./Canadian "battle of the boos" to be played out through Stones and Joy.

• Stones maintained that he was misquoted, but still played up to the jeering crowds throughout the competition. He danced around and blew kisses to the booing Canadians. During the final competition, he wore a T-shirt that said "I love French Canadians."
• After the qualifying round, Stones said he actually loved the booing. It got him fired up to jump higher, he said. "That sort of stuff just stimulates me."

• Prior to the Olympics, Stones was the world record holder, at 2.31 metres.
• The gold medal winning high jumper -- who didn't receive nearly as much media attention as the silver and bronze winners -- was Jacek Wszola of Poland, jumping 2.25 metres. Joy had jumped 2.23 metres, while Stones had jumped 2.21.
• It was pouring rain during the finals, which likely affected the results.

• In a recent CBC Sports interview with Joy (aired in 2000), the medal winner said: "I'm proud of winning an Olympic medal and the things I've done, the records I've set, but the reaction to going over the bar in Montreal was disproportional to the accomplishment of the day. Every day of my life someone mentions that jump -- and I finished second!"

• The Montreal Olympics were over on Aug. 1, 1976. By the end of the Games Canada had won a total of 11 medals: five silver and six bronze. Canada won no golds, making it the first Olympic host nation to not win any gold medals.

• Canada's individual Olympic winners in 1976 were: Greg Joy, silver for high jump; Cheryl Gibson, silver for swimming; Michel Vaillancourt, silver for equestrian/jumping; John Wood, silver for canoeing; Nancy Garapick, two bronzes for swimming; Shannon Smith, bronze for swimming; and Rebecca Smith, bronze for swimming. Canada also won two bronzes for women's swimming relays (freestyle and medley), and a silver medal for the men's swimming medley relay.
Medium: Television
Program: 90 Minutes Live
Broadcast Date: Jan. 10, 1977
Guest(s): Greg Joy
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 2:09
Photo: National Archives of Canada

Last updated: August 9, 2012

Page consulted on February 28, 2014

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