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
Outstanding Achievements, Awards, Honours
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)
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 is a Member of the International Board of Directors for Right to Play, an international development agency dedicated to reintroducing play into the lives of children in disadvantaged areas around the world.