Winners: Silken Laumann, Rowing

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Silken Laumann celebrates

Silken Laumann after she won the bronze medal in the single sculls event at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Date: August 2, 1992
Collection: CP photo/Ron Poling

1991 - Feature Story

In her ninth year as a national-level rower Silken Laumann continually hammered home the point that Canada now needed to be recognized as a world power in the sport. A year after moving to Victoria, British Columbia, to train with coach Mike Spracklen, Laumann won both the World Cup title and the World Championship. The former, in a gruelling season-long series of six races, was built on victories in San Diego and the Netherlands. The latter came in an extraordinary back-and-forth duel with Romanian rival Elisabeta Lipa in Austria, in which the women traded the lead five times before Laumann pulled away decisively in the final 200m. Laumann said, two of her three goals, the World Cup and World Championship were now fulfilled.

1992 - Feature Story

The only remaining goal in rowing for Silken Laumann was an Olympic medal, but that looked impossible after her boat was rammed in a training accident and her right leg was mangled only seven weeks before the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Doctors told her she might not race again and certainly not at the Olympic Games. Laumann said, “I told the doctors, I thought differently.’’ After five surgeries and 23 days in hospital, she couldn’t walk -- but she could row. Lifted from a wheelchair into her boat, she resumed training a few weeks before the 1992 Games, and somehow persevered to win an Olympic Bronze medal, probably the most glittering Bronze medal in Canadian sports history. As the symbol of dedication and accomplishment, she was chosen by her teammates to carry Canada’s flag at the closing ceremonies.

Career Highlights

  • 1996 Silver medal in single sculls at the Olympic Games in Atlanta
  • 1992 Bronze medal in single sculls at the Olympic Games in Barcelona
  • 1991, 1992 Bobbie Rosenfeld Award (Canada’s female athlete of the year)
  • 1991 Gold medal in single sculls at the World Championships in Vienna, Austria
  • 1991 Lou Marsh Memorial Award 
Silken Laumann rowing her boat

Silken Laumann crossing the finish line to win a Bronze medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Date: August 2, 1992
Collection: CP photo/ Ron Poling

Photograph of Silken Laumann

Portrait of Silken Laumann.
Date: 1990’s
Collection: Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

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