Amateur and Olympic sports in Canada lost a huge friend and supporter today. As reported earlier in the day, Toronto Star Sports Writer Randy Starkman died suddenly today, due to complications from a bout of pneumonia.
In the world of sports media in North America the lines are pretty clearly drawn - there are the Pro League team sports - Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey, also Tennis & Golf, and then there is everything else - the "other" sports. Most mainstream media outlets these days don't even bother with the "other" sports. But this was Randy's beat. In Canada, I believe he was the only one that was on that "other" sports beat, 365 days a year, year in year out.
Every four years, as we'll see in a few months there is an orgy of coverage of the "other" sports at the Olympic Games. However Randy tried to keep many of those Olympic and Amateur sports, everything from Athletics to Archery, in the spot-light all the time! It was Randy who kept the lights on in the 3 years and 50 weeks, between Olympic Games! Kudos to the Star for giving him the leeway and latitude over the years to do this - I really don't know of anyone else in Canada who would cover and report on cycling and canoeing, or bobsleigh, or nordic skiing the way Randy did. Certainly no one who did it with the depth of knowledge, detail, and the passion that he did!
My interactions over the years with Randy have been limited. We would see one another from time to time, at triathlon races and industry events and I recall a few lengthy phone chats over the years about triathlon, and also, sports development. He was a huge fan of the sport of triathlon and despite, following so many diverse sports, he had a great knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport of triathlon. And when he didn't know something he had no shame in asking a question about that sport!
Of course it's doubly tragic that we are in an Olympic year, and while there will be that usual flurry and frenzy of coverage during the actual games from all media, in London in August, it was Randy who was at the Swim Canada Olympic Trials just over a week ago, writing and blogging about the highs and the heart-break of who made it and who did not! It was Randy who was at the announcement of the new Toronto Triathlon Festival recently, and the one doing the interview with Olympic Triathlon Gold and Silver Medalist, Simon Whitfield trying to understand what Whitfield's drive was to go for a fourth Olympic Games.
These will be HUGE shoes to fill, for The Star, and for all of us who are fans, and followers of these "other" sports. We have lost a massive fan, supporter and friend. As Olympic & World Champion Kayaker Adam Van Koverden put it in another tribute today: "Randy was a steadfast devotee. He Loved us. He was our fan, our colleague & our friend"!
My condolences to the Starkman family. I am sorry for your loss. We will all miss Randy.