Canadian Rowing Legend Laumann Inducted into Row Ontario Hall of Fame
Canadian rowing legend Silken Laumann’s outstanding career was honoured on Friday as she was announced as the final inductee in Row Ontario’s 2022 Hall of Fame class.
Laumann’s long and illustrious career in rowing began as a member of the Don Rowing Club in her hometown of Mississauga. Growing up she was also a competitive runner but gave up her running aspirations to focus full-time on rowing in 1982. Just two years later she made her Olympic debut in 1984 at the Los Angeles Games and won a bronze medal along with her sister Daniele in the double sculls.
“Rowing has brought me so much joy and a way to direct my energy and ambition,” said Laumann. “I am so grateful for the many life lessons learned through this beautiful sport. For the people like Fred Loek, Jack Nicholson and Mike Spracklen, who gave so much of themselves to coach me to their potential, I am forever indebted. Thank you for the honour of this induction and the efforts made to keep organizations like the Row Ontario Hall of Fame, alive and vibrant.”
After a seventh-place finish in the double at the 1988 Olympics, Laumann transitioned to single sculls and became one of the top women’s rowers in the world. She placed seventh at the 1989 World Championships and progressed to a silver medal in 1990, before winning the singles sculls World Championship in 1991. She dominated women’s sculling that year, also winning international titles at Lucerne, San Diego, and Hazelwinkel as part of the World Cup series. With the 1992 Olympics on the horizon, Laumann was the favourite to win the gold when disaster struck just ten weeks before the Games. Her right leg was shattered after another boat collided with her in training. After five surgeries and a gruelling rehab schedule, Laumann’s remarkable recovery allowed her to resume training for the Olympics and in one of the gutsiest performances in Olympic history she claimed the bronze medal in the single sculls in Barcelona.
After a year away from the sport, she returned for another Olympic run in the single, winning a silver medal at the 1995 World Championships as well as the 1996 Olympic Games in what was her final competitive race. Overall Silken won three Olympic medals, three World Championship medals and two Pan Am Games gold medals in her career. She was named the Lou Marsh Award winner in 1991 as well as the Canadian Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1991 and 1992. She has been previously inducted into the Canadian Sport Hall of Fame (1998), Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame (1999), Ontario Sport Hall of Fame (2004), BC Sports Hall of Fame (2004) and Canadian Rowing Hall of Fame (2017).
Laumann has remained close to sport since her retirement and was a member of the International Board of Directors for Right to Play from 2000-15. She is a highly sought-after public speaker, a published author, the Founder of the mental health charity Unsinkable and Unsinkable Youth, and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Victoria (1994), McMaster University (1994), University of Windsor (1997), Laurentian University (1998), Western University (2013), and York University (2022).
Row Ontario has been announcing the inductions of the 2022 Hall of Fame class since Monday as part of ‘Hall of Fame Week’. Along with Laumann, the full induction class includes Judy Sutcliffe (Umpire), Paddy Cline (Coach), Max McDonald (Builder), Joseph Wright Sr. (Heritage – Athlete), the 1924 University of Toronto Eight (Crew) and Mel LaForme (Athlete).