As part of its 50th Anniversary Celebration, Canadian Interuniversity Sport presents the CIS 50th Anniversary Success Stories series. Each Thursday throughout the 2011-12 season, we will profile two alumni from CIS member institutions who have made outstanding contributions in areas such as sports, business, politics or in the community.
CIS ALUMNUS, OLYMPIC ROWER AND SUCCESSFUL JOURNALIST
Alison Korn rowed in two Olympics and now shines the spotlight on other elite athletes trying to do the same
By Sarah Jean Maher
OTTAWA – From Carleton graduate to Olympic medalist to Toronto Sun columnist, CIS alumnus Alison Korn has used her experience as both a journalist and world-class athlete to achieve great success in doing what she loves most: rowing and journalism.
Korn, 40, began rowing at the age of 21 while in her final year of political science at McGill University after a friend convinced her to try it out. She soon found that rowing was not only a sport she loved, but had great talent for as well.
She went on to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at Carleton University, where she joined the Ravens rowing team and took part mainly in the single races.
One of Korn’s favourite memories as a Raven was having competitions with the football players during her training sessions to prove who the stronger athletes were.
“While training for rowing, I remember always lifting weights with the football guys,” Korn recalls. “I knew I had huge endurance, but of course, they were much stronger than me.”
While working toward her masters, Korn was torn between getting an internship and joining the Canadian National Rowing Team. After some encouragement from a professor, Korn decided to join the National Rowing Team and pursue her Olympic dream, though hoping to also pursue a career in journalism later in life.
Korn was a member of the National Rowing Team from 1996 until her retirement in 2000. She achieved her dream of competing in the Olympics in 1996, when she raced in the Canadian women’s eight and won a silver medal. She raced in the Olympics once again in Sydney in 2000, and won bronze.
Korn also competed in three world championships and has won five world medals, including two gold medals in 1997 and 1998.
After retiring from rowing in 2000, Korn became a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen, launching her successful career as a journalist. Notably, she joined and reported on an all-women’s skiing team that skied to the North Pole.
Additionally, Korn has worked behind the scenes for CBC Radio and TV Sports, and has written for a number of newspapers including the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and the National Post.
She has also worked for the Toronto Sun as a weekly columnist, covering national amateur sports - an occupation Korn describes as one of her greatest journalistic accomplishments following her CIS career.
Korn has been working as the manager of media relations for the Canadian Paralympic Committee since March 2011, where she says she uses her experience as both an athlete and journalist to help publicize athletes.
While she says the decision to pursue rowing before journalism was a big risk at the time, she believes it is one of the most important choices she made that helped propel her to where she is today.
“I really think what it all comes down to is doing what you love and following your dreams,” says Korn. “You have to follow your passion. A quote that I really like is ‘Do what you love and the money will follow.’ Even if you aren’t rich doing what you love, you’ll still be happy.”