Four-time Olympian Tricia Smith has been elected as the Canadian Olympic Committee’s new president, the organization announced Sunday.
Smith, a B.C.-based lawyer and businesswoman, was named COC’s interim president when Marcel Aubut left the post on Oct. 3 after a formal complaint alleging sexual harassment against him. She will finish out the rest Aubut’s term, which ends in April of 2017.
Smith beat out award-winning high performance coach and lawyer Peter Lawless for the position after a vote by the Session with 74 members in attendance.
Smith — a recipient of the Order of Canada — had been vice-president of the Canadian Olympic Committee since 2009.
“I feel enormously privileged and grateful that our sport community has entrusted me today with the leadership of the COC,” said Smith in a statement. “It’s an honour I accept with pride and gratitude at a time when the eyes of the country are upon us.”
Smith ran against Aubut for president in 2009. After the Aubut scandal, Smith told reporters her focus would be on creating “a safe environment for our athletes, coaches, staff, volunteers and all those in the Olympic family. I am personally committed to making that family safer and healthier.”
Smith outlined her objectives on her website while campaigning for president, including three pillars focusing on leadership, sport and funding.
“I will be a champion for creating a safe and inclusive environment for our employees and all those involved in the Olympic Movement in this country. I will be a tireless advocate for unity, inclusiveness and collaboration with our many partners. We now enter an Olympic year with great excitement and anticipation. We must be at our best. We will do everything in our power to ensure we create an optimal environment for Rio 2016, so our athletes and coaches can be the very best they can be.”
Smith won silver at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in coxless pairs rowing with teammate Elizabeth Craig. She also captured seven world championship medals, as well as a gold medal at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.
Lawless will continue on as the organization’s vice-president.
Smith has served the COC in various capacities for over 30 years. Since joining the COC’s athletes’ council in 1980 as rowing’s representative, Smith has been a member of the executive, team selection, games, governance and compensation Committees. She was Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2007 Pan American Games.
She is also the vice president of the International Rowing Federation and has been a leader in creating opportunities for women in FISA, in all aspects of the sport, increasing the number of opportunities for women to compete, coach, administrate and officiate in international rowing. Smith has also played a strong role in FISA’s anti-doping policies as a member of the executive committee.
Smith took part in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She qualified for the 1980 Moscow Games, but like all Canadians did not participate because of a boycott of those Olympics led by the United States after the Soviet war in Afghanistan in 1979.