Ben Thorne


Once upon a time Ben Thorne wanted to become a sprinter like Donovan Bailey, but neither that nor his dream of being an elite cross-country skier worked out. Instead, he has become one of the best race walkers in Canadian history. After being left off the two-man 20km race walk team for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Thorne won the bronze medal in the event at the IAAF World Championships, easily surpassing his ambitions for a top-eight finish. Not only did that jumpstart Canada’s record eight-medal performance in Beijing, he became the first Canadian to break the 80-minute barrier, setting a then-national record in the 20km race walk of one hour 19 minutes and 57 seconds. It was Canada’s first ever world championship race walk medal. Thorne lowered his personal best by two seconds at the 2016 IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships where he finished fifth individually in the 20km race walk and won team silver with Evan Dunfee, Inaki Gomez and Mathieu Bilodeau. Thorne has worked hard to fix his technique so that he doesn’t get disqualified as happened quite often when he was a junior, including at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships. Thorne is a two-time medallist at the Summer Universiade, winning team bronze in 2013 and an individual 20km race walk silver in 2015. He made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016.

Getting to know…

Family: Parents Jim and Elizabeth Thorne… His father was a runner when he was younger and he is still trying to accumulate more medals and ribbons than dad… Getting into the Sport: Started race walking at age 15… Had been a decent distance runner but knew he’d never be world class so he took up race walking and won the BC high school championships… Outside Interests: Spends his free time studying, hiking, playing video games, reading, doing photography… Entering third year of Bachelor of Arts and Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia…  Odds and Ends: Sometimes likes to brag that he’s very distantly related to Olympic gold medallist skeleton racer Jon Montgomery… Earliest Olympic memory is Sydney 2000… Likes to get a haircut before a competition so it’s more streamlined… Likes to travel with a good fantasy novel and camera gear…

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
2016 RioAthletics20km Race Walk - Men27

Notable International Results

Olympic Games: 2016 - 27th (20km race walk)

IAAF World Championships: 2015 – BRONZE (20km race walk); 2013 – 20th (20km race walk)

IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships: 2016 – SILVER (team), 5th (20km race walk)

IAAF World Race Walking Cup: 2014 – 13th (20km race walk); 2012 – 84th (20km Race Walk)