#YearOfYou with Dr. Jack Taunton: Healing the Spirit of Sport

Jan 12, 2024

At viaSport, we’re passionate about capturing authentic, diverse, and influential stories from all in the BC sport community. The following story is a part of our #YearOfYou series, which focuses on telling stories from individuals from varying experience levels and walks of life.

Sport is for everyone: getting involved in sport not only improves long-term health, but shapes well-rounded, resilient individuals. Participating can help you build meaningful friendships, find community, and positively shape the course of your life on and off the field. Learn more about #YearOfYou and how to start your own journey in sport here.

Dr. Jack Taunton has known about the healing power of sport since he was a child.

After contracting Polio at the age of seven and getting involved in an accident as a teenager, he was able to recover completely due to the quality of physiotherapy he received. This launched his deep interest in sport medicine, ultimately making him one of the pioneers of this rare field at the time.

As an athlete throughout his schooling years, sport and physical activity sat at the forefront of his life, especially soccer, football and competitive running. He graduated as a part of the first kinesiology class at SFU in the 1970s and then went on to complete his Masters and Medical school at UBC. Soon after his post-graduate training, Dr. Jack Taunton established the first Sport and Exercise Medicine clinic and training program for physicians and therapists in Canada in the 1980s with his partner, Doug Clement.

Beyond his impressive resume in schooling, Dr. Jack Taunton continued his journey as an athlete in tandem: he ran 145km weekly and completed 63 marathons and several ultra-marathons over the course of his career.

“I continued to run and compete in distance races throughout medical school,” says Dr. Jack Taunton. “Exercise is medicine.”

Eager to create opportunities for individuals to partake in sport and physical activity, he then went on to co-found both the Vancouver Marathon and the 10K Sun Run. He also co-founded the Seawall Race with his wife. “She has been involved in every event with me,” he says.

Dr. Jack Taunton also served as a key player in the founding of SportMedBC 42 years ago, as well as founding the BC Brain Wellness Centre to support patients in their return to sport. He also volunteered his time as a Canadian physician at eight Olympic Games, serving as the Chief Medical Officer for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics and also served as a Canadian Physician for seven Pan Am Games. He now works as a Professor at UBC in the Faculty of Medicine.

In 2023, Dr. Jack Taunton was diagnosed with cancer. He has undergone chemotherapy and immunotherapy infusions to fight the disease — despite the side effects, Dr. Jack Taunton is adamant on putting his life’s work into practice. He spends two hours a day walking with his poles to keep his body moving. Though his own treatment is a main focus, Dr. Jack Taunton has continued his philanthropic efforts by recently raising $2.2 million for exercise-based cancer rehabilitation for patients to return to physical activity, including $1M of the cancer exercise program at Sports Medicine Centre at UBC.

 “Exercise and sport have been my life,” says Dr. Jack Taunton. “It has saved me from some major health issues – and now, hopefully cancer.”