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Aileen Meagher was once asked what made her such a competitor. She simply replied, “I just liked to run.”  And run she did. When Aileen Meagher first tried out for the Dalhousie University track team in 1928, the coach was so impressed that he suggested she attend the Canadian Olympic trials. She didn't know what the Olympics were and had to ask him.  She made the team and the result was the start of the career of one of Nova Scotia’s greatest athletes.

By 1930, Meagher was the Canadian record holder for the 100 and 220-yard events, and was part of the Canadian contingent at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. Meagher was the worthy recipient of two prestigious awards in 1935.  She was awarded the Velma Springstead Trophy as the Most Outstanding Canadian Female Athlete, and the Norton H. Crowe Award as the Most Outstanding Canadian Athlete. She went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and won a bronze medal in the 400-yard relay. She was modest about her accomplishments and unconcerned about the whereabouts of her Olympic medal. “I really can’t find it, but I know I did it, so why worry.”

After graduating from university, she became a school teacher but kept up her career as a runner. However, training for women was not always easy in the 1930’s as society felt women were too delicate to compete even to the point where women were sought to be banned from the Olympics. However, this did not discourage Meagher. Part of her training was to run from her home to the school which earned her the moniker “The Flying Schoolmarm.” With regard to her practice of running to school she said “I had the choice of spending 7 cents on the tramway or 7 cents for a couple of doughnuts. So I’d run and have the doughnuts.” She even had to cut down her brother’s shorts to use in practice.

When she was 72 she could still remember the thrill when the starter fired to begin an Olympic race. “When you hear the gun your stomach falls apart. It was the peak, something really special.”

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