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‘Snowy’ was Newfoundland and Labrador's fastest man

Dave “Snowy” Carroll, who passed away Saturday at age 74, set a provincial record in the 100-yard race with a time of 9.7 seconds in 1965. The record still stands.
Dave “Snowy” Carroll, who passed away Saturday at age 74, set a provincial record in the 100-yard race with a time of 9.7 seconds in 1965. The record still stands. - Telegam file

Well-known Newfoundland sports Hall of Famer Dave “Snowy” Carroll dead at 74

The man who was once known as the “fastest man in Newfoundland” has died. Well-known Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Famer and provincial Athletics Hall of Famer Dave “Snowy” Carroll of St. John’s was 74.

A track star and proud St. Pat’s man, Carroll was on Bell Island on Aug. 28, 1965 for the all-Newfoundland track and field championships.

On this day, running the 100 yards, he blazed to a time of 9.7 seconds, literally leaving everyone in his dust.

“I never heard a footstep behind me,” he said in a 2015 Telegram story.

It's a time that still stands today — you can read it right there, on Page 286 in Volume 4 of the “Book of Newfoundland” — a record that's lasted over 50 years, and one that will never be broken.

That's because, of course, no one runs the 100 yards anymore. It's the 100 metres.

To put Carroll's time in perspective, Harry Jerome's world records in the 100 yards in 1961 and 1962 were 9.2 and 9.3. Snowy ran 9.7.

Calculated to the 100 metres today, his time would be 10.59 seconds. Usain Bolt just won the 100 metres at the world championship in 9.79 seconds.

Granted, a couple hundredths of a second is a lifetime in sprinting, but you get the point.

"I never trained like I should have," Carroll said in 2015. "But I didn't know any better. I never knew the arms were as important as the legs to a sprinter."

Carroll hailed from Carter's Hill in the centre of town, whose introduction to track was through the Christian Brothers meets, his first coming in 1957. He never had a coach in his life, knew little or nothing about the finer points of sprinting, but boy could he run.

In 1961, Carroll got a call from Alf Connors and Graham Kelly — Connors the well-known St. Pat's man and Kelly, an eventual track and field Hall of Famer — to run in a meet on Bell Island. Young Snowy was but 17 at the time.

“I go to Bell Island,” he said, “and I don't know what starting blocks are, never had a pair of spikes on in my life.

“I won all six races. Six sprints in one day ... near killed me.”

The next summer, Carroll believes he could have beaten three Newfoundland sprint records in the same day. As it was, he set new standards in the 220 yard (22.7) and 440 (49.5), and he came oh-so-close in the 100.

One of his competitors was Bill McKinnon, a P.E.I. sprinter who would go on to win the 100 metre gold medal in the first Canada Games. Carroll got off to what he believed was a tremendous start, but it was called back.

The next start was good, and both runners finished in 9.8, with Carroll getting the hometown decision.

"I believe to this day, without a doubt, I would have beaten the 9.7 except for the false start," he said.

Carroll was proud of the record that will stand forever.

“But I tell you what,” he said in The Telegram story four years ago, “if a Newfoundlander ever runs faster than that, you know, a time translated from 100 metres to 100 yards, I'll be the first one to call and congratulate him.

“I'll say, ‘B’y, you were quicker than Snowy.’”

He never had to make that call.

Carroll served for many years as chairman of the Athletics Hall of Fame. The Dave "Snowy" Carroll Award goes to the person who displays outstanding contributions to Newfoundland and Labrador athletics.

Waking at Caul’s Funeral Home, funeral mass is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Pius X Church.

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