About Silken

From broken bones and shredded muscle to Olympic glory… Silken's story is one of courage, perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit.

In May 1992, just 10 weeks before the Olympic Games, Silken Laumann was injured in a brutal rowing accident that left her right leg shattered and useless. Reigning world champion in Single Sculls rowing, Silken was told by doctors she might never row again.

Twenty-seven days, five operations, and countless hours of gruelling rehabilitation later, Silken was back in her shell, ready to pursue her Olympic dream. When the starter's pistol rang out on August 2, 1992, Silken made the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history, winning the bronze medal for Canada, and capturing the hearts of a nation.

Silken retired from rowing in 1999 with three Olympic medals, and since then has continued to inspire, encouraging people to dream, live in the moment and embrace failure as a stepping stone to success.

“In ten weeks she made the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history, becoming a symbol of hope to all.”   The Montreal Gazette




1996  Silver Medal – Atlanta Olympics  

1992  Bronze Medal – Barcelona Olympics

1991  World Champion – Single Sculls Rowing

1987  Gold Medal - Pan American Games (Single Sculls)

1984  Bronze Medal – Los Angeles Olympics

Honorary Doctorates: University of Victoria (1994), McMaster University (1994), University of Windsor (1997), Laurentian University (1998), Western University (2013)

2015  Inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame

2010  BC's Top 100 Women of Influence

2007  CAAWS Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity

2006  Globe and Mail list of Most Influential Women in Canada

2006  Women's Executive Network - Most Powerful Women: Top 100

2006  CAAWS Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity

2004  Inducted into BC Sports Hall of Fame

2004  Etobicoke Rotarians Lifetime Achievement Award

2003  CAAWS Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity

2003  Canadian Institute of Child Health Award

2003  National Child Day Award

2002  Queens Golden Jubilee Medal

1999  Inducted into Mississauga Hall of Fame

1999  Mississauga Sports Award

1999  FISA's Thomas Keller Award - Outstanding Career in Rowing

1998  Inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

1997  Wilma Rudolph Courage Award (first non-American to receive the award)

1995  Canadian Olympic Order

1994  Meritorious Service Cross

1993  Mississauga Civil Award of Merit

1993  Canadian Olympic Association Award of Merit

1992  Harry Jerome Comeback Award

1992  Victoria Athlete of Year

1991 & 1992  Canadian Press Female Athlete of the Year

1991  Lou Marsh Award - Canada's Outstanding Athlete

1984, 1990, 1991 & 1992  Ontario Athlete of the Year

1984, 1988 & 1992  Mississauga Athlete of the Year



Silken joined GoodLife Kids Foundation as their Kid's Champion in 2010. Silken’s goal is to inspire grown up role models like you, who have the greatest impact in a child’s life. Together we can ensure that physical activity and healthy eating become a part of every Canadian child’s daily living. GLKF is a Canadian private foundation that envisions a Canada where all kids have the opportunity to benefit from an active life. They are inspiring parents, role models, mentors, leaders and individuals like you, to deliver the message to kids, that being active is not only good for their body and mind but also a lot of fun.

In the Goodlife Kids Foundation video below, Silken speaks about inspiring kids to get active - check it out!


Silken was a Member of the International Board of Directors for Right to Play, from 2000 - 2015, an international development agency dedicated to reintroducing play into the lives of children in disadvantaged areas around the world.