A Marriage Of Food, Fitness And Fun

By Mona Lee

View all articles by this author


Doug and Diane Clement, former Olympians in track and field, are accomplished in their respective medical and culinary professions. Each has authored journal articles or cookbooks, and together, they have written two books about food and fitness. They have received numerous awards and honours, including the Queen's Jubilee Medal for their outstanding contributions to health, fitness and sport.

Born in Montreal, Doug moved to Vancouver with his parents when he was three weeks old. "My parents were born in Gastown, so that makes me a fairly legitimate Vancouverite," says Doug, 75. As a high school student, he participated in football and track and field. Doug attended the University of Oregon on a track scholarship and represented Canada at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics in the 4x400 team relay event. He graduated with a science degree and won a silver medal at the 1954 British Empire Games in the 4x400 team relay event.

Doug credits Bill Bowerman, his university track coach and Nike co-founder, for inspiring him to pursue a medical career.

"He was the biggest influence on me," says Doug. "His career, goals and interests were the major thrust in producing goals in myself."

Doug returned to Vancouver in 1955 to study medicine at UBC and compete in rugby and track and field. While studying there, he was selected to run the mile relay in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

Diane is from Moncton, New Brunswick. Her father formed the Moncton Olympic Track Club in 1952. She trained for the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints, the only running events open to women in the 1950s. In 1954, Diane became a double Canadian champion sprinter. She and her family moved to Montreal in 1955, where she attended Concordia University.

"Doug and I met at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956," says Diane, 71. "The Canadian team trained in Vancouver for one week before we went to Melbourne. When I went back to school [in Montreal], we started writing to each other," she recalls. "I told my parents and coach that I could train all year round in Vancouver, and when the letters started coming in, my parents knew it was more than just the weather!"

Diane returned to Vancouver to train for the Commonwealth Games and won a bronze medal in the 4x100-metre event in Cardiff, Wales. Doug represented Canada at the 1958 British Empire Games. Both he and Diane retired from competitive sports that year.

"In our period of being athletes, it was during the amateur era, so there was never any idea of being a professional sports person," says Doug. "In fact, it was against the rules to accept any sponsorship or money. When we were active as athletes, we always knew it was for a short time in our lives."

When Doug graduated with his medical degree in 1959, the couple was married and moved to San Francisco for his medical internship. They returned to British Columbia in 1960 and Doug set up a family practice in Richmond. Diane gave birth to their daughter, Jennifer, in 1961, and their son, Rand, in 1964. Around this time, the Richmond Recreation Board approached Doug and Diane with an offer to build a track at Minoru Park, if they would start a track and field club.

"We went to the schools, recruiting juniors and seniors and getting parents and teachers involved," says Diane. "We started the Richmond Kajaks Track and Field Club and the recreation board built a single track and then an all-weather track. It's named the Clement Track, which is certainly a nice honour."

An estimated 500 Richmond residents also use the track on a daily basis. Since 1968, around 36 Kajaks members have competed in the Olympics, including Charmaine Crooks, Simon Hoogewerf, Tom Howard and Ken Elmer.

Through the Achilles International Track and Field Society, the Clements started the Harry Jerome International Track Classic, an elite competition in honour of the late North Vancouver sprinter. They approached the *Vancouver Sun* for sponsorship to bring in Canadian athletes and establish a fun run to promote health and fitness. The newspaper sponsors both the Jerome International Track Classic and the popular 10 km Vancouver Sun Run, which drew in 54,000 participants in 2007.

Diane balanced motherhood and coaching the Richmond Kajaks. Travelling the world exposed her to international cuisine and enhanced her love of cooking. At first, she drove from Richmond to downtown Vancouver with her children to teach cooking classes at the YWCA. Eventually, she invited amateur cooks to her house for lessons. Diane co-authored her first cookbook, *Gourmet Eight*, when students asked her to publish her recipes.

In their capacity as coaches and officials, Doug and Diane brought their children along to international sporting events. Jennifer and Rand accompanied them to the 1971 Richmond Kajaks tour, the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City and the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

"When we travelled, Doug coached Olympic athletes and I was team manager and media liaison," she says. "I would take cooking classes along the way and make sure the teams got proper breakfasts and lunches while they trained."

In 1976, Diane became the first female president of the Canadian Track and Field Association and was inducted into the New Brunswick Hall of Fame in 1979. She served as the director of Sports BC, administrator for the Canadian Olympic team, media liaison at conferences, and handled public relations for Adidas Canada.

Doug's research in exercise-related injuries contributed to the development of sports medicine as an industry. He taught sports medicine at Simon Fraser University. In 1979, he was invited by UBC to develop a sports medicine division and co-found the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre. He began to teach and research at UBC and coach their middle distance track team.

"My career started in sports, evolved into medicine, and then evolved into sports medicine," says Doug.

He was an early advocate of exercise for heart disease prevention.

"Back in the 1940s and '50s, there was no connection in anyone's mind between health, fitness, quality of life and longevity," says Doug. "Athletic activity was for the young. As an adult, there was no physical activity." Ironically, he was diagnosed with heart disease in 1979.

Diane founded the BC Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier, which recognizes the achievements of leading women in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. She published her *Chef on the Run* cookbook series, and for 10 years, appeared on Global TV's *Saturday Chefs*. In 1991, she opened Tomato Fresh Food Cafe with daughter, Jennifer. They made simple comfort food with fresh ingredients and no preservatives. BC Hot House entered a partnership with Diane, where she created new recipes with their produce. She published *Diane Clement at the Tomato* in 1995.

Doug was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada, and as the team doctor to the Vancouver Canucks. He served as Canada's Head Coach at the 1993 World Track and Field Championships. At the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games, he and Diane had a delightful time acting as the honorary mayors of the athletes' village. They welcomed visiting teams from 69 nations and were responsible for the opening ceremonies in the athletes' village.

Soon, Diane sold the restaurant and retired. Doug retired partially in 1997. A year later, he suffered a devastating stroke.

"I relearned how to walk and everything," he says. "I was lucky to reprogram the brain successfully in a six-month period. I went back to work and carried on normally."

Doug was inducted in the BC Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. He fully retired in 2000 to coach and research with minor commitments.

Since 2000, they have travelled through Home Link, a worldwide organization for home exchanges. They trade houses with other seniors in New York, France, London, Australia, Hawaii, San Francisco and San Diego. "It's opened a whole new world," Doug says. "You live like the locals, not like tourists."

Both of them are involved in charitable and non-profit organizations and health and community boards. Diane is on the board of the Vancouver Film Festival and Doug is chair of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon. They present lifestyle lectures on cruises and around the world. They recently published their second lifestyle book, *Start Fresh! Your Complete Guide to Midlifestyle Food and Fitness*.

"The boomers need to start living healthy now to prepare for when they will be seniors," says Diane. "There's no guarantee of how long we will live, but we want the quality of life to be there for as long as possible."

"The growing epidemic of obesity in children and adults is due to overabundance of sugar-laden foods and the reduction of the need to be physically active at work," Doug adds. "The crux of the book is: this issue will only be solved by eating more intelligently and being more physically active."

Being active is their hobby. Doug and Diane enjoy power walking, cycling, aerobics and strength training. In their free time, they travel, snowshoe, go to theatre, watch independent films and take their grandchildren to the symphony. For all their accomplishments, the Clements agree that their children and grandchildren are their greatest achievements.

"You never want to take the awards and honours too seriously," says Doug. "We have a full, busy life and having family and grandchildren close by is a healthy balance."

Diane adds that they are still very much involved with the Olympic family, too. She was on the Board of Directors for the Vancouver-Whistler Bid Corporation for the 2010 Olympic Games. Doug explains his current role as a 2010 Games Ambassador.

"When the subject of the Olympics comes up at public events, my role is to be armed with the facts and represent VANOC in an honest, truthful way," he says.

When asked about their future goals, Doug gives an unexpected reply. "We don't have any goals," he says. "I don't think we made goals to do what we've done. Basically, we try to do the best job we can whatever we're doing. We let the consequences direct us to where we're going."

For 49 years, their lives have been interwoven with sports, medicine and food. That's the connection to everything the Clements have done.


This article has been viewed 4040 times.

Post A Comment

Comments that include profanity, personal attacks, or antisocial behavior such as "spamming," "trolling," or any other inappropriate material will be removed from the site. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our "terms of use". You are fully responsible for the content you post. Senior Living takes no responsibility for the views and opinions of members using this discussion area.

Submit Articles

Current Issue

Search For Articles


Subscribe To
The Magazine