Garnjost Saluted by IOC, U.S. Rowing
By Alex Sachare '71
Garnjost '56 is flanked by L. Henry Hsu (left) and C. K. Wu,
former and current IOC members from Taiwan, respectively, at the
Olympic Order presentation ceremony.
PHOTO: COURTESY JOHN GARNJOST
John Garnjost '56 tried out for the freshman basketball team
at Columbia, the coach was so impressed, he suggested Garnjost take
up rowing. Basketball's loss turned out to be rowing's gain as
Garnjost went on to a distinguished career, first as a college
oarsmen and then as a highly decorated rowing official.
September, Garnjost became the 53rd American to receive the Olympic
Order from the International Olympic Committee for his
contributions to the sport of rowing in Taiwan, where he is
regarded as the "father of rowing." And two months later he
received the John Carlin Service Award from U.S. Rowing, which is
given "to an individual who has made significant and outstanding
commitments in support of rowing."
Created in 1974, the
Olympic Order may be awarded "to any person who has illustrated the
Olympic Ideal through his/her action, has achieved remarkable merit
in the sporting world, or has rendered outstanding services to the
Olympic cause, either through his/her own personal achievement(s)
or his/her contribution to the development of sport." Prior
recipients include Avery Brundage, Peter Uebberroth, Andrew Young,
Arthur Ashe, Dick Ebersol, Bud Greenspan, Jack Kelly, Jesse Owens
and fellow Lion Roone Arledge '52.
was really overwhelmed," says Garnjost, an international business
consultant who lives in Stamford, Conn., upon learning he was to be
honored by the IOC. "When you see the other people who have won the
award, you think, `My goodness, who am I?'"
Garnjost took up rowing at
Columbia and has been involved in the sport for nearly a
half-century, becoming a U.S. rowing official in 1960 and gaining
his international license in 1970. Of his decision not to continue
competing after leaving Columbia he says, "I wasn't that good and
just wasn't interested in rowing competitively. I realized at that
time that my contribution to the sport was to be as an official,
and I was going to be a good one."
became good enough to officiate at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in
1996, as well as at numerous World Championships, U.S. Olympic
Trials and U.S. Nationals. But it was for his work in Taiwan, where
he helped launch competitive rowing while serving as president of
Bristol Myers (Taiwan) from 1983-89, that he was honored by the
"When I got there, the
sport was unknown," says Garnjost, who was instrumental in raising
funds for equipment as well as raising the profile of the sport.
"We established a rowing federation, with the goal of getting onto
a par with mainland China. In those first years, oarsmen were
recruited from the military. Now, rowers come from Taiwan
University and Taiwan Normal, the major schools. Now everyone there
knows about the sport."