James Ball

golden leaf icon for Hall of Fame

Team Canada Medal Count

Gold medal icon 0
Silver medal icon 1
Bronze medal icon 2


Jimmy Ball was one of Canada’s best quarter milers in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, winning three Olympic medals in the 400m and as an integral member of the 4x400m relay teams at the Olympic Games of Amsterdam 1928 and Los Angeles 1932.

In what was considered to be one of the most exciting races at Amsterdam 1928, Jimmy Ball, who was not used to running in lanes in the 400m, misjudged his position and had to unleash a blazing finishing kick in the final. He pulled even with the leader but then made the classic error of looking over at the competition, which cost him the gold medal by 0.2 seconds. But in winning the silver medal, Ball had set a Canadian record of 48.0 seconds. Along with teammates Phil Edwards, Stan Glover and Alex Wilson, Ball captured his second medal of the Games, a bronze in the 4x400m relay. At Los Angeles 1932, Ball reached the semi-finals of the 400m and won another bronze medal in the 4x400m relay with Edwards, Wilson and Ray Lewis.

Ball grew up in Dauphin, Manitoba and graduated from Dauphin Collegiate. He studied pharmacy at the University of Manitoba where, as a member of the varsity track team, won both the Manitoba and Western Canadian 400m titles in 1925. At the 1927 Dominion Championships in Toronto, Ball won titles in the 400m and as anchor on the Western Canadian 4x400m relay team. At the Amsterdam 1928 Olympic Trials held in Hamilton, Ontario, Ball won the 400m setting a Canadian record in the heats and in the final. He set the Canadian record in the 300 yards at the 1929 national indoor championships, and then won the silver in the 4×440 yard relay at the 1930 British Empire Games, where he also finished fifth in the 220 and 440 yards.

In 1933, Ball was named Canada’s top athlete receiving the Norton H. Crowe trophy and won a second 400m national title. The following year, he won his third Canadian 400m championship and retired from active competition. 

Ball was made a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1959, Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1973, and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
1928 Amsterdam AthleticsRelay 4x400m - MenBronze
1928 Amsterdam Athletics400m - MenSilver
1932 Los Angeles AthleticsRelay 4x400m - MenBronze
1932 Los Angeles Athletics400m - Men -