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Tricia Smith (left), Canadian team chef de mission, Jacques Cardyn (centre), assistant chef, and Chris Rudge, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee at the closing press conference of the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 29, 2007.

Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee

Olympic medallist and lawyer Tricia Smith was voted president of the Canadian Olympic Committee on Sunday morning.

A four-time Olympic rower from Vancouver, Smith won silver at Los Angeles 1984 in coxless pairs with teammate Elizabeth Craig. 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. Based on my platform, this endorsement sends a clear message that our members embrace the values of sport and expect integrity."

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COC board members chose between Smith and award-winning high performance coach and lawyer Peter Lawless, who will continue to serve the organization as vice-president.

Smith recently became interim president of the organization following Marcel Aubut's resignation in early October after women accused him of sexual comments and unwanted touching.

"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," said Smith. "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 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. She has also played a strong role in FISA's anti-doping policies as a member of the executive committee.

Smith participated 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.

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Other Canadian amateur sports organizations applauded Smith's election.

"On behalf of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, our congratulations to Tricia as she embarks on her presidency," said Gaetan Tardif, president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. "Tricia brings inclusive, positive leadership to the Canadian Olympic movement. Her decades of experience in both sport and the law are unmatched.

"She always puts the athletes and coaches first and believes strongly in the positive power of sport."

Own The Podium, a not-for-profit organization that determines investment strategies for national sport organizations in an effort to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada, was also pleased with Smith's appointment.

"This is a great day for sport in Canada, and for Own the Podium's continued goal to foster stronger relationships with its partners," said Anne Merklinger, Own the Podium's chief executive officer. "The Canadian Olympic Committee is a critical partner in our efforts to deliver the critical resources and programs our nation's athletes need and deserve in their quest for the Olympic podium."

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