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Catch You On The Rebound - Fort McMurray's Greatest Athlete That You've Never Heard Of

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TSN contacted me a while back for a  historical narrative in regards to Canadian 1940s’ – 1950s’ multi-sport athlete Fred Thomas.

The documentary shapes that Thomas is, perhaps, “Canada’s Greatest Athlete That you’ve Never Heard of.”

The query made me ponder.

Who is “Fort McMurray’s Greatest Athlete That you’ve Never Heard of?”

The following names may raise an eyebrow or two and even a shrug of the shoulders; even to those who are diehard local sports fans.

Born 1955 in Fort Chipewyan, Stan Tourangeau picked up the sport of pool while attending school in Fort McMurray.

Since pool was usually played in bars back then, the access to alcohol was only a few feet away from the billiard table.

Tourangeau fell under its spell. He finally beat It’s stranglehold in 1985.

“I knew all that drinking, all those drugs I used to take didn’t ever do anything for my game.” said Tourangeau in a 1996 article. “I was just fooling myself thinking it was enhancing my game.

“[The game] has pulled me through a lot of hard times. Lots of times I could have no money in my pocket and, a couple of days later, I’d have a thousand.”

In 1995 he shot his way to the 8-ball regular singles at the 15th International Championships and in 2010 the U.S. Bar Table Championships (Nine Ball).

Paul Wohlgemuth is tall and lanky.

Built like a basketball player, he was a local all-star in the senior men’s league in the 1990s.

But it is in the sport of Shotokan Karate that the long-time McMurrayite has thrived.

In 2003 and 2006 he was captain of Team Canada at the World Shotokan Karate Championships.

Sticking with athletes who have competed on the world level, look no further than Shane Dixon, Paul Nielson, Mike Pierce and Peggy Yetman.

In 2010 Dixon was World Champion in his weight division and age group at the 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation. The 6-foot 240 pound athlete had a deadlift of 601 pounds, 435 squat and 342 pound bench press!

Nielson was a big fella and placed third at the 1982 World Arm Wrestling Championships in the heavyweight division. I remember his wrists were probably twice the size of mine.

Pierce scored two goals and added two assists for Australia in seven games at the 1979 C-Pool Ice Hockey World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

He was also a member of the hockey team that won the 1976 Goodall Cup, symbolic of inter-state hockey series in Australia.

It was in 2014 that the super fit Yetman wins the ITU World Triathlon Women’s age group 45-49 in Edmonton.

The title of Fort McMurray’s Greatest Athlete That you’ve Never Heard of” goes hand down, or should we say feet up, to marathoner Arthur Taylor.

During his years in Fort McMurray he was training 250 kilometres a week.

It was in 1976 that Taylor, who was born September 1st, 1926 in Potters Bar, a few kilometres north of London, England; set his first of five World Records in middle and long distance running.

Two years later he would set another World Record as the first 50 year-old to break the 2:30:00 marathon mark with a clocking of 2:23:01.

A record which stood for 25 years!

Catch you on the rebound!


Curtis J. Phillips has been a sports journalist in print/electronic mediums since 1976. A strong advocate of volunteerism, he is a founding father of numerous local events and organizations including the Challenge Cup and Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Phillips is also recognized internationally as a sports historian.