Feb 05, 2012
Figure skating gold medalist from Whitby lands province's highest honour.
WHITBY -- Donald Jackson, world gold medalist in figure skating, was
one of 27 Ontarians appointed to the Order of Ontario. Looking on with
admiration on January 27, were Kailey Rushworth, left, and Taylor Page,
of the Oshawa Figure Skating Club, and two of Mr. Jackson's figure
skating students. January 27, 2012 Celia Klemenz / Metroland
|I've always tried to give back to my sport in every way that I can so it's an honour to be recognized this way.
WHITBY -- Donald Jackson showed just how far he would go for his sport when he became the first person to land the triple Lutz jump in an international figure skating competition in 1962.
Fifty years later, the 71-year-old Whitby resident may no longer be able to pull off the same moves, but he is still leaving an impression on the ice.
For his ongoing contributions to skating through various endeavours, including currently as a coach in Durham and Toronto, he recently became one of 27 Ontarians appointed to the Order of Ontario.
"I've always tried to give back to my sport in every way that I can so it's an honour to be recognized this way," says Mr. Jackson, who was just 21 years old when he made Canadian history.
Established in 1986, the Order of Ontario recognizes the highest level of individual excellence and achievement in any field. Appointees were presented with the honour at a ceremony in Queen's Park on Jan. 26.
Born in Oshawa on April 2, 1940, Mr. Jackson was the first Canadian male figure skater to win the world figure skating championships, earning an unprecedented seven perfect scores at the event on March 15, 1962.
"The only thing I thought after that (jump) was, 'OK now, concentrate because the competition isn't over. Forget that now, you've got other things to do,'" he recalls, with a laugh.
Mr. Jackson also won the bronze medal at the Olympics in 1960 and was the Canadian senior men's figure skating champion in 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962. He is a member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
His talent was already evident at age eight while he was a member of the Oshawa Skating Club and a player on a local peewee hockey team.
"I played hockey with my figure skates, which would not be allowed today but it was OK at that time and because I was skating two or three times a week already, my skating was improving," Mr. Jackson says.
When his hockey coach started to notice the young skater's ability to skate backwards and stop on his toe picks surpassed his teammates' abilities, he informed the Jacksons they had to buy their son a pair of hockey skates.
"We didn't have the money to buy another pair and I enjoyed the figure skating, so that was the end of my hockey career," he says.
Throughout his life, Mr. Jackson has also served as executive director of the Minto Skating Club and has been involved with the Special Olympics. He currently teaches skating at Forest Hill Figure Skating Club in Toronto and the Oshawa Skating Club, where he continues to live out his dream of sharing his passion for the sport with others.
"I just want them to really enjoy what they're doing and be able to do it for years to come, whether they are champions or not," he says, adding that he also enjoys being able to stay active in his senior years.
"I can still do a few jumps but the endurance is what's a bit harder now so that's why I practise, because it gives me a goal, and I've always liked a challenge."