SSHoF logoKeith Russell

Builder (2002)


Keith Russell Keith Russell came to Saskatoon to coach and teach gymnastics at the University of Saskatchewan, was founder of the Taiso Gymnastics Club in Saskatoon in 1979, has been a Canadian national men's team coach and helped two Saskatoon athletes make Canadian Olympic teams.

Keith was born in Prince Albert but moved to Vancouver when he was 12 years old. While he was a student at University of British Columbia, he also worked with young gymnasts in an adventure camp at Lighthouse Park. After graduating from UBC, he was named Canadian men's team coach in 1977, retaining the position until 1981.

He spent some time as a coach-in-residence in Australia. Keith came to Saskatoon in 1978 to fill a position on the University of Saskatchewan staff and became head coach of the men's gymnastic team for 10 years. He also started a small club, Taiso, with nine gymnasts in 1979 at the Rawson Room at the university and one of his original members was James Rozon, who blossomed into a Canadian Olympian in 1988.

One of his trips as Canadian team coach was to Japan where his team included his own protege, Warren Long, and young Canadian star, Elfie Schlegel. Warren was seventh all-round in the Chunichi Cup event. Warren had an amazing string of 10 straight years with the national team and won medals at the Pan-American games, World Student Games, World Cup and British Commonwealth Games. He attended four world championships among the 30 international meets in which he competed.

Keith took a turn as a broadcast commentator, joining Ernie Afaganis of the CBC in its gymnastics coverage from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

One of the strongest teams assembled in Huskie colors was during 1984-85 when Keith was surrounded by Jim Govett, Warren Conley, Kelly Thompson and James Rozon. By 1986, Saskatchewan had another powerhouse, winning the Canada West championship and finishing second at the nationals in Hamilton. It was among the steps, which James Rozon took towards making the 1988 Canadian Olympic team in Seoul, Korea.

Keith was named the 3M Canadian male coach of the year in individual sports in 1995, he is a life member of Gymnastics Canada, and he has been coordinator of the national high performance centre for gymnastics in Canada.

But at the heart of his life has been work with children in the gym and he has contributed books like Straight Talk about Children and Sport, a video on Children in Sport, and his own Up Down All Round lesson plans for elementary schools.

" In Saskatoon we have boys with as much potential gymnastically as anyone in the world. Fun, fitness, fundamentals: That’s our underlying theme. " -- Keith Russell, gymnastics coach