Olympians

Roger Jackson

From: Toronto, Ontario

Graduation Year:

  • 1963

Stats (results):

  • 1964 - Gold - Tokyo
  • 1968 - Mexico City
  • 1972 - Munich

Honours/Awards:

Career Highlights:

  • Director, Sport Canada (1976-78)
  • President, Canadian Olympic Association (1982-90)

Who would have thought that a bout of mono- nucleosis could actually help an athlete win an Olympic gold medal? That was Roger Jackson's experience at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Born on January 14th, 1942 in Toronto, Jackson always participated in sports, including football, basketball and hockey.  Jackson didn't take up rowing until he enrolled at The University of Western Ontario, where he was a member of the varsity rowing team.  A natural at the sport, rowing continued to be important to Jackson after he graduated from Western in 1963 and pursued his Masters degree at the University of Toronto.

As Jackson grew serious about the sport, he decided to move to Vancouver, which laid claim to the top rowing club in the country.  There, he met future teammate and Olympic gold medal co-winner, George Hungerford.

Jackson and Hungerford did not plan on rowing together at the 1964 Olympics, but when Hungerford came down with mononucleosis, Jackson's partner in the coxless pair took Hungerford's place on the team.  Despite being without a partner, Jackson continued to train and when Hungerford recovered from his illness, he joined Jackson in the coxless pair.

Roger Jackson

Roger Jackson after his gold medal win with George Hungerford at the 1964 Olympics.



The two had a rough start to their partnership.  Hungerford was still weak and had to take naps in between training sessions.  Both struggled to obtain the perfect synchronization required in pairs rowing.  However, when it came time to compete at the Olympic qualifiers, they posted the fastest time, allowing them to advance directly to the finals without competing in the semi-finals.  This had the added bonus of allowing Hungerford two days rest.

At the final, the team got off to a perfect start. They maintained a safe lead throughout the race, but Jackson feared that Hungerford was losing strength and began to slow his stroke towards the end.  The Netherlands team began to close the gap, so Jackson picked up the pace and encouraged Hungerford to sprint for the finish.  The pair was successful and captured the gold medal - the only one Canada would win during the 1964 Olympics.

Roger Jackson continued to be involved in athletes and the Olympics after his gold medal win. He competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics and was the president of the Canadian Olympic Association from 1982-90. Most recently, he was the chief executive officer of the Own the Podium Program for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Click here to watch Roger Jackson recall the details of the gold winning race.

Roger Jackson

Roger Jackson (back row, left) and the 1962-63 Senior Varsity rowing team. Courtesy of UWO Student Council.