Silken Laumann

From: Victoria, British Columbia

Graduation Year: 

  • MSC 1988

Stats (results):

  • 1984 - Bronze - Women's Double Sculls - Los Angeles
  • 1991 - World Champion - Single Sculls
  • 1992 - Bronze - Women's Single Sculls - Barcelona
  • 1996 - Silver - Women's Single Sculls - Atlanta

Silken Laumann, born in 1964 in Mississauga, Ontario is an athlete known for her outstanding sporting achievement and perseverance.  The most famous incident in Laumann's career was during the training for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.  Her shell collided with the German men's team and she was told that she might never row again.  She said, "I looked at the leg for a few seconds and knew it was serious when my muscle was hanging at my ankle and I could see the bone."  Five operations later, after an intense rehabilitation, Silken competed in the Olympic games that year and came home with a bronze medal for Canada.  Laumann retired from rowing in 1999 but still continues to be an inspiration for many athletes around the world.

Sport(s) played while at Western: Cross Country Skiing and Rowing

How did you get into the sport in which you participated at an Olympic level?

"My sister was already a high level rower and had encouraged me to try the sport for years.  One summer I had stress fractures in my legs from running track, and so I rowed to keep in shape.  Within months I knew I'd never go back to track.  I'd fallen in love with rowing, and my body was made to row."

What was your experience like at the Olympics?

"Every Olympics was different and each experience was special in its own way.  In 1984 I was only eighteen years old, so it was more like going to Disney World!  By 1992 I was the World Champion, a seasoned competitor.  The 1992 Olympics, where I competed a short ten weeks after a near career ending accident, were the most magical."


Nelson Mandela

Silken Laumann at the 1992 Olympic Games, courtesy of Ted Grant. 

Olympic medalist Silken Laumann, courtesy of Beth Hayhurst Photography.