Jane Haist ready to throw the discus. SUPPLIED

Jane Haist competed with distinction at the college and international levels

Jane Carolyn Haist, a local track and field star in the 1970s who went on to dominant performances in college and at the international level, died at the Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie on Saturday May 21, after a brief battle with cancer. She was 73.

Haist is survived by her mother, Dorothy (who lives at Lookout Ridge in Fonthill, and will be 100 years old next month) her brother, Gary and his wife Carolyn, and step-children and grandchildren in Tennessee. She was predeceased by her father, Harold, who passed away in 2017.

She took up athletics in high school, and went on to compete at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville from 1977 to 1979, where she twice earned All-American honours, winning a national college championship in discus. In her first year, Haist tossed a collegiate record in discus that still stands at the University of Tennessee, and was the second Lady Vol to win a national title in any sport.

As a member of the national track and field team, Haist represented Canada at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand, winning gold medals in both the shot put and discus. In 1975, she won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Mexico City.

Haist went on to compete at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, and then at international meets in Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Israel, Mexico, Ukraine, Sweden, Norway, the United States, and Great Britain.

“Jane went to school at the old Pelham District High School on Canboro Road,” recalled Mayor Marv Junkin last week. “She was a year or two ahead of me. She was on the track and field team, and was a force in the shot put and discus.”

Junkin remembered watching Jane at a SOSSA regional meet held at McMaster University almost 55 years ago.

“I was on the track team, along with my friend Jim Steele, and we were standing along the sidelines of the girls’ discus,” said Junkin. “Four or five girls had made their throws, all pretty ordinary, and then it was Jane’s turn. Jim told the two spotters on the field, who are there to pinpoint where the discus lands, that they would be well-advised to move back a bit. The two guys looked at each other, shrugged, and took a couple steps back. Jim shook his head, and knowing the distances Jane could hurl the thing, told them that wasn’t far enough, that they should go way back. The spotters must have thought that Jim was just being a wise-ass, and stood their ground. Well, Jane let that discus loose, and it flew about 20 feet over their heads. That’s how much better she was than the rest of the field.”

Off the field, she was humble, almost to the point of being timid, said Junkin.

“But when she got involved in a competition, she grit her teeth and was there to win.”

Cremation has taken place, and a private interment will be held at a later date. As expressions of sympathy, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or the Canadian Olympic Committee would be appreciated by the family.