He’s an Olympic champion, world champion, member of the Order of Canada and now Bruny Surin can add Team Canada’s chef de mission for the 2024 Paris Olympics to his long list of accomplishments.
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) made it official on Friday morning more than two years before the Summer Games.
“I got a call from the COC board saying I was the chosen one for Paris and I was just jumping for joy,” Surin told CBC Sports. “Even though I’m talking to you now, I’m at a loss for words. I’m so excited. I’m so happy. And you know, ever since I retired, I’ve always wanted to stay involved with the athletes with the new generation to stay in the Olympic movement. It’s a great gift.”
The 54-year-old, who lives in Montreal, is best known for his involvement in one of the country’s greatest sporting achievements.
Surin was part of the 1996 Canadian 4x100m relay team that won gold at the Atlanta Olympics, handing the United States their first-ever loss in the event at the Games.
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Surin competed for Canada at four Olympics, starting as a long jumper in 1988 in Seoul before moving to sprint. He was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Entrepreneur, athlete, coach, mentor and father, Surin said he will be able to draw on so much of his life experiences to help lead Canada in Paris as Chef de Mission, whose primary role is to serve as spokesperson for athletes in preparation for and during the Olympic Games.
“You know what, it’s not something that happened overnight. It’s something that I thought, I would say at least the last two Olympics. I reached out and said to the COC my intention to be involved in everything. Good things come to those who wait,” Surin said.
His mantra since competing as an athlete has been “the me I see is the me I will be” – and Surin said he sees himself in the role of chef de mission for Team Canada.
“Years ago I imagined myself in this role. And it’s happening. You know, that’s why I told people, you have to be patient, you always have to think positive, you have to do the work,” he said. .
“I’m going to give it my all. It’s something I’m going to take very, very seriously.”
Surin was born in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, before moving with his family to Canada in 1975.
‘There is no shortcut’
He remembers what his mother shared with him when they arrived in Quebec to start their life in a new country.
“One of the first things my mum said was that here you have every opportunity, you have every opportunity,” Surin said. “Work hard, persevere and never cheat in life. There is no shortcut.
“So I started having dreams, I looked for a vision, I started dreaming of representing Canada. And now I’m going to be the spokesperson for Team Canada.”
Surin becomes emotional as he reflects on all he was able to accomplish while wearing the Maple Leaf in competition and the opportunities he has been afforded in Canada – now preparing to lead Canadian athletes to the Olympics.
“I’m living a dream. I’m actually saying I’m living a dream. It’s crazy. Thank you, Canada. It’s a great gift of life and I’m going to embrace it.”
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For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.