“Only she who attempts the absurd will achieve the impossible”
– Plaque honoring Abigail “Abby” Hoffman
Abby Hoffman is one of the most recognizable Canadian Jewish Athletes. She is in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and she is an inspiration to women athletes internationally.
Her sports career started much like you’d see in the story-line of some cheesy B-movie from Hollywood. If any producers are interested, I’ll write the script. As a little girl in Toronto growing up in the 50s, she wanted to play ice hockey. Alas, there were no girls leagues nearby. With nothing to lose, she cut her hair and joined a boy’s league under the name “Ab Hoffman”.
The rest, as they say, is history.
After being an all-star hockey player, getting discovered, then riding the wave of human interest stories the world round, she eventually found her calling in track and field. She competed in a slew of world events, beginning when she was only 14 years old! Throughout her career, she was often ranked among the top 10 middle distance runners in the world. She competed in the Olympics in 1964, 1968, 1972, and finished her career as the flag bearer for the Canadian team in 1976. She won a two gold medals, a silver, and a bronze in the Pan American Games, and she won a gold medal in the 1966 Commonwealth Games.
Besides being an athlete, Abby Hoffman taught political studies at the University of Guelph, worked as the executive secretary of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, supervisor of sports services for Ontario, became the first woman director general of Sport Canada, wrote a fitness column for Chatelaine, and worked as a senior advisor for the Women’s Health Bureau. She has quite the resume.
Abby Hoffman has been recognized around the world for her career in and outside of athletics since the 60s. We now recognize her in the Jewish Canadian Athletes Hall of Fame.