Paul Poce, Toronto Olympic Club Founder
Paul Poce’s incredible journey in the world of athletics began with boxing during his teenage years before he discovered his true passion for running. Recognizing the value of staying in shape during his time in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), he embraced running wholeheartedly. After his RCAF days, he joined the West End YMCA and later became a part of Lloyd Percival’s prestigious Toronto Red Devils TC.
In 1954, Paul, along with a few others, founded the Toronto Olympic Club (TOC), where he not only excelled as a runner but also assumed coaching responsibilities. For an astounding 69 years, he served as the club’s Head Coach, guiding countless athletes to victory and greatness.
Paul’s coaching prowess extended beyond running. He took charge of various events, including javelin, pole vault, long jump, hurdles, and steeplechase at TOC, and also coached the Canadian national team’s walks events. In recognition of his expertise, he was appointed as the National Distance Coordinator in the 1970s.
His dedication to the sport led him to take on crucial roles as the Director for renowned races like the Labatt’s Marathon, Pru at the Zoo, and the Silver Relays in Toronto. He ensured the club’s unwavering support for local races and consistently assisted with the Legion meets. A member of RCL Branch 82, Paul was deeply committed to improving athletics in Canada.
Paul Poce’s illustrious career as a coach extended to international competitions, as he was chosen as a member of multiple Olympic Teams spanning from 1972 to 1992. He also played pivotal roles in the Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games, World Cup, Cross Country events, and Ekiden Relays. These outstanding achievements led to his induction into several esteemed Halls of Fame, including the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Athletics Ontario Hall of Fame, and the Athletics Canada Hall of Fame as a coach in 2014.
Beyond his coaching endeavours, Paul was actively involved in organizing various sporting events, such as the Telegram Indoor Games and the Toronto Police Games. He eventually became the Meet Director for the prestigious Toronto Star Games in the 1970s, a testament to his leadership and organizational skills.
For Paul, athletics was more than just a profession; it was his life’s calling. He was deeply invested in helping athletes achieve their dreams, whether it meant shaving off a few seconds from their personal bests or pushing them to reach new heights. He coached by phone and computer (no methods used).
Outside of the Toronto Olympic Club, Paul’s interests extended to jazz and classical music, while his thirst for knowledge led him to indulge in historical literature. He possessed an extraordinary memory, effortlessly recalling world events and dates. Such was his commitment to his athletes that he memorized the phone numbers of hundreds of them before the era of cell phones.
Paul Poce’s legacy extends beyond his coaching achievements. His influence touched the lives of numerous runners across various distances, from 800m to marathon races.
On May 22, 2023, at the remarkable age of 98, Paul Poce left this world, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the world of athletics. Paul’s memory will continue to inspire and uplift the world of sports, reminding us of the immense impact one dedicated individual can have on countless athletes and the sport they love.
Nine Times – 1990, 1991 in Spain, 1992 in New York, 2001, 2002, 2003 in Japan, 2004 in China, 2005 and 2006 Beijing
- Canadian Road Running Hall of Fame as a Builder in 1991
- Syl Apps Award Volunteer Award for Sports in Mississauga in 2008
- Athletics Ontario Hall of Fame inducted as Builder in 2009
- Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame inducted as Builder/Coach in 2010
- Athletics Canada Hall of Fame as a coach in 2014
- Assistant Meet Director for the Toronto Telegram Indoor Games
- Meet Director for the Toronto Star Indoor Games
- Meet Director for the Toronto Sun Indoor Games
- Meet Director for the Eaton’s 10K races
- Race Director for the Toronto Labatt’s Marathon for first 5 years, now the Toronto Waterfront Marathon
- Race Director of many 5 km, 8 km, 10 km and 12 km races in Toronto Labatt’s, Pru at the Zoo, the Silver Relays and many others
- Elite Entries Director for the Shoppers Drug Mart and Toronto Wang Marathons
- Head Coach and Manager of the Toronto Olympic Club for almost 70 years