#15: Eugene “Gene” Reimer

Story taken from BC Sports Hall of Fame & CPC Hall of Fame with some edits by Kathy Newman

Eugene Reimer of British Columbia dominated national and international wheelchair sports in the late 1960s and 1970s. With only minimal use of his legs since polio had left him a paraplegic at an early age, he took up sport with a passion, and quickly became one of British Columbia’s top overall all-round athletes in the 1970s. Never content with perfecting one single sport, Reimer excelled in a diverse selection: weightlifting, archery, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field events, and even acrobatics.

Over his twelve year career in sport, Reimer brought home a number of gold, silver, and bronze medals from prestigious world events, such as the Pan American Wheelchair Games and the Paralympics. He was also highly successful at national events, and was the perennial winner at the BC Wheelchair Games and the Canadian National Wheelchair Games. From 1968 until his athletic retirement in 1980, he amassed over fifty national and ten international gold medals.

1972 was an especially outstanding year in Reimer’s athletic career, with the year culminating in him being named Canadian “Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year.”

In 1972 Reimer took home gold in both discus and pentathlon (setting two new world records), and silver for the 4 x 60m relay at the Heidelberg Paralympics. Based on these results, Reimer was named Canadian “Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year.” This would mark the first time such a level of recognition had been awarded to an athlete with a disability. Two years later, in 1974, Reimer was awarded the Order of Canada for his “inspiring example to the handicapped.”

Reimer was inducted as a member of the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 when he was honoured in the distinguished WAC Bennett category. His induction in the Athlete category in 2000 marked the first time an athlete had been inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as an individual twice. In 2003, Reimer was honoured at the convocation ceremonies at the University College of Fraser Valley as the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. In 2007, he was not only honoured with the Order of Abbotsford– his hometown – but was also named “Citizen of the Year.”

Throughout his athletic career, Reimer was also an avid basketball player, playing for nineteen years with the successful Vancouver Cable Cars. He remains an inspiration to all British Columbians and Canadians.