Roger Jackson entered the University of Western Ontario in 1959 and immediately took an interest in competitive rowing. He graduated in 1963 and entered graduate school at the University of Toronto, only to decide that he wanted to make Canada’s Olympic rowing team and transfer to the University of British Columbia to do so. He qualified to represent Canada in the coxless pairs, but lost his partner, Donald Pretty, when Pretty was transferred to the coxed eights to replace George Hungerford, who had come down with mononucleosis. Despite Hungerford never having competed in the pairs, he joined Jackson and trained hard, hoping to make an impact at the 1964 Games. Their first race together was the opening round of the Olympics and they managed not only to qualify, but to do so in the fastest time. In the final they defeated favorites Steven Blaisse and Ernst Veenemans of the Netherlands to win the gold medal, Canada’s only one of the tournament. For their achievement they were jointly awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as the nation’s top athletes of the year.
Jackson graduated with a master’s degree in physical education in 1967 and then entered the University of Wisconsin. He competed in two more Olympics, finishing 11th in the single sculls in 1968 (where he also served as flagbearer for Canada in the Opening Ceremony) and 12th in the coxed fours (alongside Michael Conway, Robert Cunliffe, Edgar Smith, and James Walker) in 1972. He earned his Ph.D. in biodynamics in 1971 and became involved in post-doctoral study at the University of Copenhagen. Since retiring from active competition, he has been involved in sports administration in several notable roles. After helping develop the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Physical Education, as well as the city’s bid for the 1988 Winter Olympics, he directed Canada’s Own the Podium program, which helped the nation win a record 14 gold medals at the 2010 Winter Games. He also served as the director of Sport Canada from 1976 through 1978 and as President of the Canadian Olympic Committee from 1982 through 1990. Among his many honors, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983, received the Olympic Order in Silver in 1997, and has been inducted into Canada’s Sports (1964), the Canadian Olympic (1971), and the Alberta Sports (2008) Halls of Fame.