Bachelor of Physical Education, 1973
The petite, energetic and charismatic Thelma Wright is UBC’s most prominent track and cross-country athlete. The 1973 Physical Education and 1974 Education graduate is presently the only UBC female track athlete to appear in two Olympics and has won medals at Commonwealth, Pan American and World Student Games and at the World Cross Country and World All-Star meets. Recognized as one of the world’s leading cross-country runners – seven time Canadian champion – she led UBC to three Canada West championships and two National titles. During the 1970s she set Canadian 1500M and 3000M records in addition to UBC records that as of 2014 still stand.
In her graduating year Thelma was not only co-recipient of UBC’s outstanding female athlete of the year award but won 17 of the 1500M races she ran that season contributing to her being named Canadian University Woman Athlete of the Year. Her accomplishments have led her to induction into both the BC and UBC Sports Halls of Fame.
In more recent years Thelma has taught and coached high school, elementary and UBC students and athletes while contributing to building UBC’s track and field program. The Wright family in fact could be considered UBC’s “First Family” with regard to the Olympics in that Thelma (’72 & ’76), husband Lee (’64 & ’76) and their two sons Anthony and Philip (’08) plus Thelma’s father-in-law Harold Wright (’32), are all UBC’ers and all Olympians.
Written by Fred Hume, UBC Historian