The man who won Prince Edward Island’s first medal at the Canada Games has died.
William (Bill) David McKinnon died Sunday at home in Stratford. He was 72.
“When I heard about his passing, I was devastated because he’s left such an enduring mark on Island sports and certainly Island track and field,” New Haven sprinter Jared Connaughton said Tuesday. “I think there’s a tremendous legacy there.”
McKinnon said during a 2017 interview with The Guardian he always had a love for track and field.
"Fortunately, we had some good people directing us, and it instilled a love of the sport that I still have today," he said.
McKinnon won gold in the inaugural Canada Summer Games in 1969 in Nova Scotia. It came in a marquee event – the 100-metre dash.
He was in the middle of the pack midway through the race before storming back to win in a photo-finish time of 10.37, which made him the second-fastest person in the world at the time.
"I'm proud of what I accomplished, no questions about it," McKinnon said in 2017. "I was pretty proud to be able to show the medal to people and say, 'we can do it'."
McKinnon’s success helped Connaughton prepare for his second Games in 2005 and was an inspiration for him as he competed for Canada at the Olympics.
“That was huge motivation for me,” said Connaughton. “It really put into perspective for me what Island athletes could accomplish.”
And Connaughton was ready when he took to the track in Regina, Sask., winning gold in both the 100- and 200-metre sprints.
“Billy reached out to me and congratulated me,” Connaughton recalled.
The two were also ambassadors when the 2009 Canada Games took place in Prince Edward Island.
Connaughton sent his condolences to McKinnon's family and friends.
McKinnon, who also attended the first Winter Games in 1967 in Quebec City as a member of the hockey team, ran internationally for Canada and was inducted into the P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame in 1971.
The retired teacher and well-respected Islander remained active in the sporting community and was a regular at many local events.
Sport P.E.I. recognized McKinnon during its annual awards in February to mark the 50th anniversary of his gold-medal run. McKinnon’s medals remain on display at the track clubhouse at UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place.