Meeting my Olympic Hero – Dr. Roger Jackson

I am an Olympic Games junkie. Whenever the Olympics – summer or winter – are taking place, I am ensconced on the couch in front of my TV from opening to closing ceremonies. I get very little else done for two weeks. The ability of the athletes to push their bodies and minds to the very edge of human performance is captivating.

Today I had lunch with one of my Canadian Olympian heroes – Dr. Roger Jackson. I had been looking forward to this meeting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Roger Jackson was one of my childhood heroes. He participated in one of the most grueling competitions – rowing – for which supreme aerobic conditioning is required. And secondly, he wore eyeglasses. I began wearing glasses when I was in elementary school and felt self-consciousness about it. So it was encouraging for me to look at posters in the school hallways that showed Roger Jackson in his boat and wearing glasses. That poster and Roger’s athletic achievements gave my confidence a boost.

Roger Jackson and his crew mate George Hungerford won a gold medal for Canada in rowing pairs at the 1964 Olympic Games. Having won Olympic gold at an early age and subsequently serving as Canada’s flag bearer at the opening ceremonies of another Olympic Games, I suppose an individual would be justified to cruise through the rest of life. But not Roger Jackson. Roger is more than an athlete; he is a doer. After obtaining a PhD in Biodynamics, he worked for Sports Canada and Own the Podium, and eventually served as Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary.

My intent at our lunch meeting today was to get to know my Olympic hero, as well as learn more about his ongoing involvements with our university and city.

Roger Jackson’s list of contributions to sport is long. While sport has played a significant role in his life, Roger has found other ways to contribute to society. For more than a decade he has served as chairman of the National Music Centre (NMC) in downtown Calgary. There are some interesting things happening at the Centre and we brainstormed potential collaborations between the university and the Centre. For example, university faculty and students could potentially have access to the Centre’s suite of rare instruments and synthesizers. Also, the new NMC building will officially open in April 2016, coinciding with the launch of the University of Calgary’s 50th birthday celebration.

What a pleasure to finally meet Roger Jackson. No, Roger has certainly not put his feet up and cruised through the rest of life. He continues to be a great Calgarian and Canadian.

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