I could hardly believe the news I came home to yesterday. Randy Starkman, an amateur sports writer (actually THE amateur sports writer, there was no other like him) for the Toronto Star had passed away. Starkman was only 51 years old. I knew he was in hospital with pneumonia, but I had no idea he was as sick as he was. I never met Randy. I can’t even remember for certain if I ever conversed with him on Twitter. But from the tributes that have poured in from his peers and those he covered alike show how well-liked he was by those who knew him.
I grew up with an interest in Olympic sports. There is nothing like athletes who do a sport because they love it, even if it means not having as much money as they could have with a full-time job. Very few journalists have given those athletes time of day over the years. There’s always been Scott Russell and Brian Williams on the television side, then there was Starkman in print media. He knew multiple amateur sports better than most beat writers know the one team they cover. He had opportunities to move to higher profile gigs, yet like the athletes he covered, he loved what he did so much he didn’t want to do anything else.
He may best be known from breaking the news that Ben Johnson had tested positive for steroids in 1993. It was the second time Johnson had failed a drug test. But he was more than that. He was the reporter that gave skiing, swimming, athletics and countless other sports a voice alongside the Leafs and Jays in the Toronto media.
Like I said, I’d never spoke to him. I’m not the best person to speak about him as a result. Instead, I suggest you read these articles by CBC’s Scott Russell (Starkman was frequently on a CBC panel of amateur sports reporters in recent years), kayak Olympic gold medallist Adam van Koeverden, Clara Hughes, Dave Stubbs and Kristina Groves. Each has their own unique memory to share of Randy. And those aren’t the only ones.
Rest in peace Randy. There will be a big void for myself and many others when reading London Olympic news this summer.