Phil Edwards raced his way to fame and the Olympic medal podium five times for his Canada. He was the first Canadian Olympian to win five Olympic medals (making him the country’s most decorated Olympian at the time); the first black athlete from McGill to compete in the Olympics; one of the first black athletes in the world to earn an Olympic medal; and the first black man to win honours in the Commonwealth Games.
A medical student at McGill, Edwards was a star on the track and field team, and led the Redmen to six consecutive championships, captaining the team in five seasons (1931-36). Edwards was also Canadian intercollegiate track champion in various events and established many McGill, Canadian and American track records. Christened the "man of bronze" because of his five bronze medals, Edwards represented Canada at three Olympics, including the notorious 1936 Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany.
He graduated from McGill medical school in 1936, and received a graduate diploma in medicine in 1945, specializing in tropical diseases.
Edwards also served as a captain in the Canadian army in World War II, and was a highly regarded practicing physician, putting his expertise in tropical medicine to use on a number of international medical missions.
Edwards was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and the McGill University Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. He died in Montreal in 1971 and shortly afterwards, the Phil A. Edwards Memorial Trophy was established and has been presented annually to Canada's most outstanding track athlete.