Duncan Gillis

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameDuncan•Gillis
Used nameDuncan•Gillis
Born3 January 1883 in Mabou, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (CAN)
Died2 May 1963 in Vancouver, British Columbia (CAN)
AffiliationsVancouver AC, Vancouver (CAN)
NOC Canada
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 1


Having already earned a reputation as an able hammer and discus thrower in his native province of Nova Scotia, among other track and field events, Duncan Gillis moved to Vancouver in 1904 to work as a police officer and took his athletic talents across Canada and the United States, winning numerous amateur championships. He was well-known enough that, prior to the 1912 Summer Olympics, he was profiled by the New York Times as one of the athletes to watch at the upcoming Games, the only Canadian to earn that distinction. It was on the basis of this report that he was selected as Canada’s first Olympic flagbearer; he did not disappoint, winning silver in the hammer throw behind only the great American Matt McGrath (whose shortest throw went 4.44 metres further than Gillis’ best). He also competed in the discus, finishing 14th in a field of 41 competitors.

Gillis’ gave up on athletics following the Games and focused on wrestling, becoming the Canadian national heavyweight champion in 1913 and turning professional the following year. He was inducted into the British Columbia (1967), Cape Breton (1997), and Nova Scotia (1999) Sports Halls of Fame. As of 2012 he is one of only two Canadians to have won a medal in the hammer throw, the other being Con Walsh, who won bronze in 1908.

Personal Bests: DT – 43.24 (1910); HT – 51.20 (1912).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1912 Summer Olympics Athletics CAN Duncan Gillis
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic) 14
Hammer Throw, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1912 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony CAN Duncan Gillis