|Competed in Olympic Games • Competed in Olympic Games (non-medal events)
|23 May 1882 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (CAN)
|10 February 1960 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (CAN)
|?, Montréal (CAN)
As a youth, Bill Halpenny was always athletically active in a variety of sports, but it was track and field that most captured his interest. He practiced the high jump, broad jump, hop, step and jump, and hurdles, but his talents were best displayed in the pole vault. He joined the Abegweit Amateur Athletic Association in 1901 after breaking the Maritime pole vaulting record with a jump of 10-1 and, by July of 1904, he held the Canadian national outdoor record in the sport at 11-5. His feats earned him a trip to the 1904 Summer Olympics, where his pole failed to arrive in time for the competition and he was forced to borrow one that was several inches shorter. He competed in the handicap meet, placing fourth with a jump of 11-0, and some sources claim that he competed in the main Olympic event as well, although no contemporary evidence for this has been discovered.
In 1905 Halpenny moved to Montreal and joined the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association at the urging of Frank Lukeman. Although Halpenny and Lukeman defected at one point to the St. Patrick’s Amateur Athletic Association, they soon became Montreal AAA’s most prominent competitors. Nevertheless Halpenny did not qualify for the 1908 Summer Olympics, but put his frustrations to productive use and began to concentrate on mastering his pole vaulting skills. By September he had captured the U.S. National Championship and less than a year later he took the Canadian one. His efforts secured him a spot with the Canadian delegation to the 1912 Summer Olympics, where the tournament’s record would be broken by all of the top seven finishers. Halpenny was one of these top seven, but was seriously injured during one of his jumps and was forced to withdraw after being carried off the field. Noting problems with the landing pit, the Olympic committee awarded him a special bronze medal for his achievements. Whether or not his 1904 appearance is counted, he was Prince Edward Island’s first Olympic competitor, as the next person from the province to attend the Games would be a student of Halpenny’s, Phil MacDonald in 1924.
Halpenny rebounded from his injuries and competed in the Canadian National Championships later that year, defeating 1912 Olympic gold medalist Harry Babcock to claim the title, a feat that he would repeat in 1913. The cancellation of the 1914 competition, due to the onset of World War I, signaled the end of his career as an active competitor, but it was not the end of his association with athletics. After the conflict he was named coach of the Abegweit AAA and served in that capacity for many years. In 1922, now aged forty and not having competed professionally for nearly a decade, he set a new Maritime record in the pole vault by clearing 11-4.
Personal Best: PV – 3.80 (1912).
|Discipline (Sport) / Event
|NOC / Team
|1904 Summer Olympics
|Pole Vault, Men (Olympic)
|Pole Vault, Handicap, Men (Olympic (non-medal))
|1912 Summer Olympics
|Pole Vault, Men (Olympic)
|Long Jump, Men (Olympic)
|Triple Jump, Men (Olympic)