MONTREAL — McGill Athletics & Recreation regretfully announces the death of Lionel Whitman, a champion shot-putter and discus thrower on the Redmen track and field team, who won the Forbes Trophy as McGill’s athlete of the year in 1953-54. He died April 27 in Omaha, Nebraska and was 83.
Born Charles Lionel Whitman on Jan. 11, 1931 in Montreal, he attended West Hill high school, where he was active in rugby, basketball, football and track. He later graduated from McGill, where he majored in geology and earned a science degree in 1955. During his university days, he
played intermediate football and competed in track, where he was team captain and set a number of school records in both the shot-put and discus. Whitman won gold in the shot-put at the 1952 intercollegiate track and field championships in London, Ont., with a throw of 44 feet, six and five-eighths inches, just shy of the national record. His result helped McGill claim second place in the overall championship with 40 points, five shy of the Western Ontario Mustangs.
In 1954, Whitman won the Eastern Canadian intercollegiate shot-put title with a toss of 48 feet, 6.5 inches. He also took the discus title with a distance of 129 feet, 11 inches at Varsity Stadium in Toronto.
He came fifth in the shot-put at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver with a throw of 47 feet, 8.5 inches. It was at these games that the “Miracle Mile” took place between Roger Bannister and John Landy, which marked the first time that two runners broke the four-minute barrier in the same race.
In March, 1955, Whitman shared the Hec Phillips Memorial Trophy with Dick Harding of Toronto for the most outstanding performance at the senior intercollegiate track and field championships.
While at McGill, he also chaired the Intercollegiate Athletic Council, served on the Students Athletic Council and the McGill Athletics Board. He was also honoured by the University’s Scarlet Key Society. After graduating, the geologist moved to Calgary in 1955 before transferring to Houston, Tex., in 1974. He retired in 1981.
He is survived by sons Donald of Parksville, B.C., and Stephen of Omaha, in addition to numerous grandchildren and relatives. Messages of condolences can be left online at Legacy.com