No other female from Manitoba may ever match the achievements of Sylvia Burka who has attained national and international honours as a dual sport athlete. Burka was not accorded due recognition in her hometown as she could inconspicuously move about Winnipeg, but in European cities she garnered instant attention.
Sylvia Burka was not only Manitoba’s but Canada’s dominant female speedskater and cyclist. From her first national speed skating title in 1967, she dominated the national scene through to 1980 winning 5 national titles (conflicting world events). She held over 40 national records between 1967-80. Her international accomplishments were equally impressive. Among them were: World Junior Speed Skating Champion in 1973, World Speed Skating Champion in 1976 and 1977, fourth place in the 1976 Winter Olympics, Canadian team member at the 1980 Winter Olympics, a total of 21 world speed skating titles, Manitoba Outdoor Champion, Manitoba Indoor Champion, and Canadian Champion in 1967, 1970-72, and 1975.
In 1980, Burka established the cycling world record during a 1,000 metre time trial, established the Women’s World Indoor Cycling record over one kilometre, and was awarded the Manitoba Female Athlete of the Year Award on an unprecedented six occasions.
Sylvia Burka has no equal in the annals of Manitoba’s or Canada’s athletic history. No other Canadian woman has yet to ascend the peak in two sports. Burka’s entrance into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame was complemented by her induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and by her selection as Manitoba’s Female Amateur Athlete of the Century in 2000.
b. May 4, 1954