- 2003 Sportsperson of the Year -
Frank King. If there is a name synonymous with the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, his is it. You could say that King exemplified the phrase – dare to dream. It was at that fateful Booster Club meeting, back in September 1978, when King and fellow Club member, Bob Niven, made a decision that would change their lives, that of the Booster Club’s and the entire City of Calgary’s. When the idea of Calgary hosting the Olympic Winter Games was debated vigorously by the directorship, the Club president intervened and asked if anyone was interested in pursuing the matter further. When King and Niven raised their hands to accept the task, little did they know the enormous impact that decision would have.
As Chairman of the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) from 1979 to 1982 and OCO ’88 from 1981 to 1988, King dedicated over ten years of his life to creating what Juan Antonio Samaranch, then President of the International Olympic Committee, called “the best Olympic Winter Games ever organized”. Using the lessons learned from previous Olympic bids, King and his team opted on a theme of legacy. At the time of the Calgary bid, the city was sorely lacking in sports facilities. One of the ongoing legacies of the Games would be the facilities it left behind. Today, these include the Pengrowth Saddledome, Olympic Oval, and Canada Olympic Park – all home to numerous international events.
Calgary’s Olympic Winter Games stepped into new territory by creating a long list of “firsts”. The Games were extended from 12 days to 16. It was the first to establish an athlete’s endowment fund, receive a record-high television contract, to use 95% volunteer labor, to have six additional venue cauldrons, plus many other firsts.
While the name Frank King would eventually be whispered throughout every household in Calgary, the man was an active booster of local sports from behind the scenes like many others in the community. King coached basketball and hockey. He served for many years as a director with the Calgary Booster Club. He initiated and organized a senior men’s basketball league in both Edmonton and Calgary. As an athlete. King played numerous sports in high school and university. He also clocked in at 3 hours, 20 minutes in the 1979 Boston Marathon.
After the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, King served as Co-President of Canada 125 (Canada’s Birthday Celebration) from 1991 to 1992, was a member of the World Police & Fire Games Committee (1992-1994) and is a current director of the Vancouver/Whistler Olympic Bid Committee.
Among his many accolades, King was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1988, received the Olympic Order in Gold from the International Olympic Committee in 1988, the Canadian Olympic Order in 1997, the Alberta Premier’s Order of Excellence (1981 and 1988), the Governor General’s 125 Medal (1992), and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. Frank published It’s How You Play the Game. The inside story of the Calgary Olympics (ISBN 0-9694287-5-8) in 1991.
One only has to look throughout the city’s current skyline to see the significant impact Frank King has made on this community. If it wasn’t for a raised hand at a typical Booster Club meeting several years ago, the world-class venues we now enjoy might still be just a dream.