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Remembering Randy

Remembering Randy

When Randy Starkman passed away in April of this year, Canada lost its premier amateur sport journalist and the sports community lost a friend.

Throughout his career, Starkman covered 12 Olympic Games. In doing so, he earned the important reputation as an authoritative voice of Canada’s amateur athletes in the media.

“Randy always got the athletes to say what they really felt,” said five-time Olympian Charmaine Crooks. “When people read the stories he wrote, they were reading what came from the athletes’ hearts. I think that’s what all of us miss the most about Randy.”

As a result of Starkman’s honest and genuine reporting, athletes felt compelled to confide in him.

“We trusted Randy,” said Canadian Olympic rower Ben Rutledge. “We could tell he was inspired by us and we, in turn, were inspired by what he was doing. That was the allure of Randy.”

Starkman sought not only to develop a rapport with Canada’s Olympians but with their families as well. Parents, often behind the scenes and not accustomed to the pressures of the media, felt comfortable around him.

“After one of Adam (van Koeverden)’s events, I remember being swarmed by media and I was actually quite scared until I spotted Randy’s face in the crowd,” said Beata Bokrossy, mother of Olympic renowned sprint kayaker Adam van Koeverden.

“I told the other reporters, if you want to listen to me speaking to Randy then that’s fine.”

A common thread runs through Canadian athletes and their families’ memories of Starkman: he was, first and foremost, a friend.

Brian Price, coxswain of the men’s eight rowing crew that won silver in London and gold in Beijing, shared a favourite memory of his friend.

“When Randy came out to Victoria one time, knowing that I have two daughters, he brought me one of his daughter’s favourite books, Chrysanthemum, as a gift,” said Price. “The day he died, that was the book I read to my kids. It was pretty tough for me to get to through it. That’s the type of guy Randy was. He was a friend first and a reporter second.”

Tears sprung to Olympic speed skater and CTV broadcaster Catriona Le May Doan’s eyes as she spoke about Randy in the press room at Canada Olympic House, named in her late friend’s honour.

“I saw Randy a week before he died,” she said. “I knew him for so many years. You talk about Randy and people light up. His life was a celebration because he celebrated who people really were. He celebrated their gifts and their faults as well.” she said.

Olympic boxer, Mary Spencer, recalled her first impression of Randy:

“The first article Randy wrote about me blew me away. I knew he was special right away. Then I got to know him a bit better and I realized what an amazingly selfless person he was.”

Trying to overcome a lump of emotion welling up in her throat as she spoke, Spencer shared her favourite memory of Starkman.

“When Randy found out about a Christmas party some friends and I organize every year for the kids on the (native) reserve, he wanted to be a part of it,” said Spencer. “I will never forget seeing Randy’s van pull up, packed full of presents. He didn’t just drop off the gifts – he stayed and helped the kids build their gingerbread houses and made sure that every kid had memorable Christmas.”

Summer and winter Olympian Clara Hughes lamented her “dear friend” Randy’s absence at the London 2012 Games.

“I still can’t believe I was at these Olympics without him, but in many ways I don’t think I was here without him because he was in my heart and he’ll be in my heart for the rest of my life,” she said.

The Olympic Games will never be the same in the absence of Starkman’s authentic, impassioned, and heartfelt coverage, but his Olympic spirit lives on.

When the women’s eight rowing team came to Canada Olympic House to celebrate their second place finish, Darcy Marquardt lifted up the silver medal she wore around her neck and said “a part of this belongs to Randy.”

At the final press conference for the Canadian Olympic Team at the London 2012 Games, Starkman’s daughter Ella asked the final question from reporters. And in a fitting tribute to her father, Ella and her uncle Laurie wrote a poem to share with those closest to Starkman:

We’re here to remember Randy –  my brother and Ella’s dad
But you know my Papa – he wouldn’t want you to be sad.  

Our Randy had a spirit that will never disappear
And if you ever met him, this was something very clear

Randy was an artist – and the written word,  his art
His words would paint a picture – and it came straight from the heart.  

His passion was reporting on the amateur athlete
And, just like those he covered, he hated getting beat!  

Randy always believed in the human being behind the story
It was more than winning and losing – and it was more than chasing glory. 

The journey was the thing – what it took to get you here.
As Brent Hayden’s Dad could tell you – even parents weren’t in the clear.  

Randy had a career many would admire
He’d often close the press room, wouldn’t he ever tire?

He once rode a bobsled and tried his hand at rowing.
He said – ‘It’s harder than it looks!’ – his admiration for you growing.

ButRandy was an Olympian in, oh, so many ways
A man of compassion and humility, who never sought out praise

If you brought your kids to an interview, they’d end up with my brother.
He’d pick them up and read to them – you’d think he was their mother.

As Dave Stubbs could tell you, Randy loved a goofy prank.
Like the time he sent a note from Stubbs – to Juan (WAN) Antonio Samarank.

van Koeverden, Perdita, and of course, Clara Hughes….
He earned their trust and their friendship….which he would never lose.

Randy loved the Olympic Games … his first was 1984.
Sarajevo really hooked him … it left him wanting more.

ButVancouver  would be his last …  it should not have been this way.
Randy lives on … in all of us … every single day.

Catriona Le May Doan
I knew Randy for so many years. He knew the real person behind the athlete. I saw Randy a week before he died. To be able to talk to him to have him know that he was telling the real story that was the most important thing. As an athlete, and as a friend of Randy, and as media, you just hope that the real story gets told. Randy was a friend to sport. You talk about Randy and people light up. His life was a celebration because he celebrated who people really were. He celebrated their gifts and their faults as well.

Alex Bilodeau
At B210, we had media training. Randy and I spoke for two hours, he definitely prepared me for Vancouver. I loved having interviews with Randy. He was so easy to speak to, I sometimes had to remind myself that he was part of the media. We lost an important figure in Canadian sport.

Charmaine Crooks
Randy always got the athletes to say what they really felt so that when people read the stories he wrote, they were reading what came from the athletes’ hearts. I think that’s what all of us miss the most about Randy.

Adam Van Koeverden’s mother Beata Bokrossy
After one of Adam’s events, I remember being swarmed by media and I was actually quite scared until I spotted Randy’s face in the crowd. I told the other reporters, if you want to listen to me speaking to Randy then that’s fine.

Ben Rutledge
We trusted Randy. He believed in amateur athletics and he believed in promoting it. We could tell that he was inspired by us and we, in turn, were inspired by what he was doing. That was the allure of Randy. When he was around you gave him whatever he wanted and he gave you everything he could back.

Adam Kreek
Randy was such a wonderful man. He understood the heart, the drive, the family, the spiritual pursuit that athletes undergo.

Darcy Marquardt
A part of this silver medal belongs to Randy.

Brian Price
When Randy came out to Victoria one time, knowing that I have two daughters, he brought me his daughter’s favourite book, Chrysanthemum, as a gift. The day he died, that was the book I read to my kids. It was pretty tough for me to get to through it. That’s the type of guy Randy was. He was a friend first and a reporter second.

Clara Hughes
In an article written shortly after she received the shocking news of Randy Starkman’s passing, Clara Hughes called him her “best friend in sport”. Her most prized souvenir from the Vancouver Olympics,  a paper mache speed skate, was a gift from Randy.

“He made us understand we were more than our success.   That we should strive for more than just being good at what we do.   He celebrated the victories and supported through the rough patches.”

“Randy was more than a reporter.   To me and so many others, he was a friend.   A person who truly cared for us, for sport, for right and for wrong.  “

Mary Spencer
The first article Randy wrote about me blew me away. I knew he was special right away. Then I got to know him a bit better and I realized what an amazingly selfless person he was.

Randy wanted to help make it a memorable Christmas for these kids.

I will never forget seeing Randy’s van pull up, packed full of presents. He didn’t just drop off the gifts, he stayed and helped the kids build their gingerbread houses and made sure that every kid had an awesome Christmas party.

In the lead up to these Olympics, I always imagined that, at the end of it all, Randy would be here and he would be the one to get the story right so it’s really a different feeling that he’s not here

Clara Hughes
I still can’t believe I was at these Olympics without him but in many ways I don’t think I was here without him because he was in my heart and he’ll be in my heart for the rest of my life.

- By Kristina Velan

Canadian Olympic Team Mark

By The Canadian Olympic Committee

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