By Tom Degun at the UKTI Global Sports Opportunities Conference in London

Charmaine CrooksJanuary 30 - Charmaine Crooks, Canada's five-time Olympian and a former International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, believes that a successful Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games could facilitate a bid from the city for the Olympics and Paralympics but stressed the whole country would need be behind it.

The 50-year-old Jamaican-born former 400 metre runner, who won a silver medal in the 4x400m relay at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics, is now a Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) Executive Board member while she is also President and founder of NGU Consultants, the sports marketing, management and corporate consulting company working on Toronto 2015.

Toronto has twice bid to host the Summer Olympics Games - the first coming in 1996 when they finished third behind Atlanta and the second in 2008 when they were runners-up behind Beijing.

Many experts believe a successful Pan and Parapan American Games in the city could finally lead to a winning bid for Toronto in 2024 or 2028, as happened for Rio de Janeiro following the 2007 Pan American Games, but Crooks said that a successful bid would require the full support of Canada.

"I think in terms of a Toronto or Canada bid, we have to think very strategically and we have to be very focused," Crooks told insidethegames here.

"A bid would have to have the full consultation of the Canadian Olympic Committee of course and also have the support of all different levels of Government so that it was a unified national priority.

"We also have to look at the geopolitical climate at the time when we bid and ask ourselves if it was a good time to bid if we wanted success.

"They are all real considerations in a bid – the economy, legacy, timing and the capacity to be able to deliver that.

"So if all those things line up, and if they line up with a good economic story and a good legacy story, then I think it is important to support bids in the future for Canada going forwards because it does have spin off benefits across the country.

"The excitement from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games has given us an appetite to do more because we have seen the impact that it can have and also seen that it helps develop sport for a nation, which is something I am very passionate about.

"But it is a very competitive landscape bidding for major sport projects around the world so you have to do it properly."

TorontoToronto is the largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario

Crooks also believes that Toronto 2015 are well on track to stage a great Pan and Parapan American Games and predicted it will be another great chapter in Canada's sporting history following Vancouver 2010.

"We are fortunate in Canada that we hosted one of the best Winter [Olympic] Games to date in Vancouver 2010 in terms of our legacy building and how we told a true Canadian legacy story," said Crooks, a director on the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee.

"That story now continues onto Toronto 2015 where will get to showcase that again.

"It really is a road to Rio 2016 for a lot of us and also a road from Vancouver that shows that we in Canada believe bridging Summer and Winter Games.

"I think the Pan Am Games can bring the same benefits as the Olympics and Paralympics in terms of tourism, economic development and in creating new role models.

"Hosting a sporting event in a country showcases so much more than just athletes; it showcases an entire country and illustrates what that country can achieve."

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