Randy Starkman: A true Olympic friend

Canada lost one of its best, Monday.

At 51, longtime sportswriter and passionate Canadian Olympic advocate Randy Starkman died after being diagnosed with pneumonia.

His death marks the end of an incredible portfolio of stories and highly valued opinions that spread over 12 Olympic Games and so regularly glowed in the Toronto Star sports section. In remembering Starkman, however, it’s the honest value of his personal investment in Canada’s Olympic athletes that truly shines.

“He was a tireless advocate for Canadian athletes,” said Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut. “Randy made our athletes better through his passionate storytelling and his personal relationships with everyone associated with the Canadian sport community.” Simply said, he cared.

Starkman cared deeply about the Olympic movement in Canada and as a result, his work provided fuel for its success.

“Randy was more than just a talented writer,” said Mark Tewksbury, 2012 Canadian Olympic Team Chef de Mission. “He was on the athletes’ side. He always treated athletes with respect and his hard work resulted in countless young athletes being introduced to the Canadian public. There is a great void in the Canadian sport family.”

Assistant Chef de Mission Sylvie Bernier agreed.

“For years, Canadian athletes have shone a little brighter and reached more fans, thanks to the hard work of Randy Starkman,” she said. “He transcended his role through his commitment to excellence and to the young role models he helped introduce to Canadians. We will miss you, Randy.”

Starkman began his journalism career cutting his teeth in sports with United Press Canada and was brought on by the Toronto Star after the 1988 Games in Seoul, Korea. He went on to win two National Newspaper Awards.

Among media, he was a friend and outstanding colleague who recently left his warm influence at the 2012 Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials in Montreal.

“Just so devastated by the news,” said Martin Richard, Director of Communications for Swimming Canada. “Only a few weeks ago, Randy was at our trials in Montreal playing with my daughter and reading storybooks to her in the media room. He was so happy about sharing pictures of his recent trip to Rome with his wife and daughter while having lunch with my family and I. He was an amazing reporter and great friend.”

This deep-rooted sentiment was echoed and celebrated Monday within the sport community and among some of this country’s greatest athletes.

“Randy Starkman was one of the most selfless human beings I have ever met,” wrote three-time world Champion boxer Mary Spencer on Twitter.

“Very few media types in Canada took the time to invest and care in Canadian sports like Randy,” four-time Olympic medallist Hayley Wickenheiser tweeted. This kind of professionalism followed Starkman everywhere.

“Randy’s understanding of the hard work, sacrifice and passion required to excel as an athlete mirrored his own dedication to the craft of journalism,” said Dimitri Soudas, Canadian Olympic Committee Executive Director of Communications .

“His work touched everyone in the sport community. The London Games will not be the same without Randy there to tell our athletes’ journey. He will be missed but always remembered by all of us.”

Randy Starkman will be missed, yes, but his work and personal influence on the Olympic movement will forever be invested in this nation’s Olympic success.