First Person: Charmaine Crooks 

Track star and Olympian gets behind the Olympic movement

click to enlarge Charmaine Crooks
  • Charmaine Crooks

Charmaine Crooks was just 17 years old when she made the Canadian Olympic team, starting an impressive track and field career than lasted 20 years. She and her relay teammates took away a silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and in 1996 at Atlanta she was Canada’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony.

She is one of only two Canadian women to be asked to join the International Olympic Committee, an organization that despite its problems remains one of the most powerful and recognized groups in the world. Barely a year goes by when Crooks’ efforts, whether humanitarian or sport driven, are not recognized in some form.

She was recently elected vice president of the executive committee of the World Olympians Association.

Crooks sat down in Vancouver with reporter Clare Ogilvie to talk about her life and her passion for sport, and what the Olympics can really do to create change on a personal and global level.

Pique: Vancouver and Whistler have just marked the two-year countdown to the Games. What does Vanoc need to focus on in the next two years to get ready?

Charmaine Crooks: Really we are now in the operational phase and we are learning from the test events, such as the ones that happened recently. It is now about holding steady on the course. The high praise we just got from the IOC (The International Olympic Committee visited Vancouver for an update last week) was confirmation that we are on track but we must never take our eyes off the finish line.

Pique: What do you enjoy doing when you are not involved with all of your Olympic, sport, and humanitarian commitments?

CC: Well, I am reading two good books right now, (President Bill) Clinton’s book Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World and I am reading (former chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve) Alan Greenspan’s book The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. It is fantastic. I love reading books about key leaders who have changed our lives and who have impacted us. But I am a pretty driven person and I love to work. Of course, I love to have fun and love gourmet cooking, especially Caribbean food.

I do some work for charities as well. My dad passed away from prostate cancer and my mom from a very rare lung cancer, so if there is a chance for me to do something in their honour I will do that.

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