Former Canadian sprinter Bryan Saunders dead at 69

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The Canadian track and field community is mourning the death of former sprinter Bryan Saunders.

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Saunders died last week at the age of 69.

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Saunders was raised in Toronto and competed for Canada at the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the 400 metres and 4×400-metre relay, in which the Canadian team finished fourth. At those Games, Saunders, along with teammates Ian Seale, Don Domansky and Leighton Hope, set a Canadian record of 3:02.64, which still stands. Saunders and the Canadian 4×400 team also competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Saunders also won bronze medals in the relay at the 1975 Summer Universiade in Rome and at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City.

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“A kind person, is how I would describe Bryan,” former Olympic teammate Tony Sharpe told the Toronto Sun. “He was very popular on the international scene with the all the Americans, Jamaicans, the Brits … everybody knew Bryan. A very kind, nice, funny person, just a really good, good guy.”

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“We were on a lot of teams together,” added Sharpe, an Olympic bronze medallist for Canada in the 4×100 metres relay at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. “In 1979 we were on Pan American Games team together and he kind of took me under his wing at that point, as a friend of my sisters. He lived up the street from my family. We had a great time together, we travelled the world. I cherish those memories. It wasn’t about the track with him, he was just a really good guy. And very religious.”

A viewing will take place on Monday, May 9 from 6-9 p.m. at Chapel Ridge Funeral Home, 8911 Woodbine Ave. Markham. The funeral will be held on Tuesday, May 10 at 11 a.m. at the Scarborough 7th Day Adventist Church, 4350 Lawrence Ave. E.

Saunders is the third Canadian sprint great from the 1970s and 1980s to pass away in the last year. Desai Williams, a finalist in the legendary 100-metre final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and a 1984 Olympic bronze medallist, died in April. Angela Bailey, a 1984 Olympic silver medallist in the 4×100-metre relay, passed away last July.

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