Lawrence West, second from right, with the 1954 Olympic gold medal winning eights team

Lawrence West

golden leaf icon for Hall of Fame

Team Canada Medal Count

Gold medal icon 0
Silver medal icon 1
Bronze medal icon 0


Rower Lawrence “Laurie” West was a member of the University of British Columbia (UBC) men’s eights crew that was chosen to represent Canada at Melbourne 1956. Only half of the crew had any real rowing experience and with only a year to prepare for the Games, a competitive team was rebuilt and challenged for the Olympic gold medal. West won a silver medal for Canada, behind the Americans by only two seconds, with teammates David Helliwell, Philip Kueber, Richard McClure, Doug MacDonald, Bill McKerlich, Carl Ogawa, Donald Pretty and Robert Wilson. 

In winning the 1954 national eights title, West and his crew of McDonald, Robert Wilson, Ken Drummond, Mike Harris, Ray Sierpina, Glen Smith, Tom Toynbee and Herman Zloklikovits went on to represent Canada at the 1954 Commonwealth Games where they won the gold medal. In winning his second national title at UBC, he was selected for the Melbourne 1956 crew.

A graduate of UBC, West stayed on and assumed coaching duties when his own coach Frank Read retired. His eights crew finished third in the 1961 US Western Sprints in Seattle, a must win to get funding for the Royal Henley. West had the same group in 1962 and achieved a world record time against St. Catharine’s, sending the crew to the World Championships in Lucerne.

Along with his 1954 Commonwealth gold medal winning crew, West was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1958, British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1966, University of British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, and again into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 with his 1956 silver medal winning crew.

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
1956 Melbourne RowingCoxed Eight - MenSilver