Remembering Randy

A year ago today, Canada lost one of its biggest and proudest Olympic supporters in Randy Starkman. The acclaimed sportswriter for the Toronto Star passed away at the age of 51 after a bout with pneumonia at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Starkman, a longtime sportswriter who had a 24 year career with The Star, was a real advocate of sport– always going the extra mile to tell a true and honest story depicting amateur athletes.

“This is my baby,” Starkman was quoted as saying about the Olympic Games. “This is where I want to prove the worth to the newspaper that we should have a full-time Olympic guy. There aren’t too many left.”

Having talent was one thing, but what made Starkman stand out was his ability to connect with every athlete he came across. He took the time to get to know them and develop trust as a storyteller.

“You could tell him the things you absolutely didn’t want written in the press,” said Olympic swimmer Annamay Pierse (Toronto, ON). “But you knew it was going to make a difference in your story, so you would tell him and trust him.”

He was a friend to the athletes and one of their biggest advocates.

“He knew the real person behind the athlete and was telling the real story,” said Olympic speed skater Catriona Le May Doan (Saskatoon, SK). “That was the most important thing. He was a friend to sport. You talk about Randy and people light up even though you get upset over a life that was lost too early.”

Starkman covered a total of 12 Olympic Games, but sadly the two-time National Newspaper Award winner would not see the London Summer Games. His absence was felt at every venue and press centre and many Canadian athletes competing in London had him in their thoughts.

“Nobody is going to ever top Randy Starkman in my mind in Canadian sports journalism,” said Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden (Oakville, ON). “Every time I got out of my boat I’d expect to see Randy and I didn’t see him this year, but he was there.”

In an emotional speech during her Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame induction in September of 2012 in Toronto, Beckie Scott (Vermilion, AB) dedicated her award to the memory of Starkman who she called one of her dearest old friends.

“We lost Randy earlier this year,” said Scott. “But his voice will forever remain woven through the fabric of the Canadian Olympic story as one of the most incredible sports journalists we’ve ever had, and one of the truest voices and best friends of Olympic sport there ever was.  And so Randy, and maybe you can hear us out there somewhere; for all you did and for all you were to us, this is for you – thank you.”

Thank you indeed Randy. The sports world will never be the same without you, but it is stronger and better because of you.

– George Fadel