James Worrall was an intercollegiate star in both athletics and water polo (for McGill University). He went to the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games as Canada’s flag bearer. There he competed in the 110- and 400-metre hurdles. Two years earlier he had won a silver medal at British Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in the 120-yard hurdles.
In the 1940s, Worrall became a Canadian Olympic Team leader. For the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games, Worrall was Assistant Chef de Mission of the Canadian Olympic team. From 1951 to 1953 he took the helm of the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada as president. Worrall was then named Canada’s Chef de Mission for the Olympic Games of 1956 and 1960.
Worrall was president of the Canadian Olympic Association (now Committee) from 1961 to 1968, after which he was named a life president of the organization. From 1963 to 1967, Worrall chaired the National Advisory Council on Fitness and Amateur Sport. He helped steer the direction of Canada’s first two Olympic Games as host country: Worrall was board member of the Organizing Committee for the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games and the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games.
Worrall’s involvement with the (IOC) is extensive. He was an IOC member for 22 years until 1989 – after which he was named honorary member. From 1974 to 1979, Worrall was a member of the IOC Executive Board. His other important roles include chairman of the Commission on Revision of the Charter and member of the Joint III, Legislation, Enquiry for Rhodesia, Enquiry for Greece and Juridical Commissions.
Worrall – author of My Olympic Journey, Sixty Years with Canadian Sport and the Olympic Games (2000) – was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 1976. He was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1965, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1991.
Since 2002, the James Worrall Flag Bearer Award (presented by Petro-Canada) recognizes those Olympians and Paralympians who lead Team Canada into an Opening and Closing Ceremony.