Charmaine Crooks

“Never give up.”

Charmaine Crooks, Canadian Olympic runner, 1962-present.

Jamaican-born Charmaine Crooks is Canada’s first female five-time Olympian. At her very first Olympics in 1984, in which she competed in the 4x400 relay in Los Angeles, the team won a silver medal. She went on to represent Canada at Seoul, Barcelona, Moscow and Atlanta, where she was named Canada’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony. Crooks is also the first Canadian woman to break the two–minute barrier in the 800M sprint. She is one of only two Canadian women to be asked to join the International Olympic Committee.

Born into a family of nine children in Jamaica, Crooks ran track with her siblings from a young age. Having moved to Canada when she was five, watching the 1967 Olympics in Montréal inspired her to pursue the Olympic dream. Growing up in Toronto, the family’s dining table only sat six so they had to eat dinner in shifts. Those who ran the fastest got to eat first. Crooks tried speed skating at first, but running was her first love and she became professional at 16.  In 1981 Crooks won an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas-El Paso where she completed a degree in psychology. In addition to her Olympic medal, she would earn four Commonwealth Games medals, and three at the Pan American Games.

Crooks is a natural leader, and an advocate for female athletes and fair play in sport; she is a founding member of the IOC Ethics committee. In 2003 she was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, and received the Order of Canada in 2013. She was a producer on the TV special, No Laughing Matter which raised awareness for Breast Cancer, and was the consulting producer on the award-winning Champion’s Zone sports documentary.

In her spare time, Crooks reads motivational books and enjoys Caribbean cooking. Retiring from athletics after 20 years as a runner, Crooks became a sought after speaker and board member for various sport-related organizations. She runs her own sports consulting company and is also an active volunteer for several charities, including the Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland.


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