LaForme Earns Induction into Row Ontario Hall of Fame
One of Canada’s top rowers throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s was recognized on Friday as Row Ontario announced Mel LaForme as an inductee of the 2022 Row Ontario Hall of Fame class.
LaForme, who hails from Hamilton, got his start in rowing at Westdale Secondary School before competing with the University of Guelph during his university years. From there, he became a mainstay on the national team for over a decade. His career spanned four Olympics and his crews won three medals at the World Rowing Championships.
“I am indeed honoured by this induction,” said LaForme. “Like most rowers I was a young person when introduced to this sport about a collective (crew) experience involving a powerful sense of purpose. I was hooked from the start. How fortunate am I to have benefited so many opportunities, experiences, and friendships from our wonderful sport. Thank you rowing.”
LaForme’s first taste of Olympic competition came in the eight at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal where he and his crewmates placed eighth. Canada boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, which postponed the possibility of his second Olympic trip. After serving as a spare in the eight at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, LaForme returned to Olympic competition in Seoul in 1988, where he helped the men’s quad to a ninth-place finish.
In the 12 years between his first and last Olympics, LaForme showed his versatility competing and excelling in several different boats at the highest levels of the sport. He earned his first international medal at the 1979 Pan Am Games, winning silver as part of the men’s coxed four. Four years later he was on the podium again at the Pan Am Games, this time in the single and the quad. He earned another silver medal in the single and claimed the gold medal as part of the quad. He would experience even more success in the quad two years later, winning gold at the 1985 World Rowing Championships, the first ever gold medal by a Canadian boat at a World Championship event. LaForme would earn two more World Championship medals with the same quad, claiming the bronze in 1986 and 1987, as well as winning the Queen Mother Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in 1986.
Following his retirement from the national team, LaForme has stayed active in the sport and continues to compete at the masters level. He has also given back to rowing by coaching at the high school level in Hamilton, including at his alma mater Westdale Secondary School, as well as the Leander Boat Club. LaForme’s career has been recognized with inductions into the University of Guelph Hall of Fame (2002) and Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame (2010), as well as a lifetime achievement award with the Leander Boat Club. He is now a two-time inductee into the Row Ontario Hall of Fame, after being inducted as a member of the 1985 World Championship quad last year.
Row Ontario has been announcing the inductions of the 2022 Hall of Fame class since Monday as part of ‘Hall of Fame Week’. Inductees announced this week include Judy Sutcliffe (Umpire), Paddy Cline (Coach), Max McDonald (Builder), Joseph Wright Sr. (Heritage – Athlete), and the 1924 University of Toronto Eight (Crew). Stay tuned for the announcement of the final inductee later today.