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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

MARC GAGNON

Inducted in 2008

Member Details

Date of Birth: May 24, 1975
Place of Birth: Chicoutimi, Quebec
Sport: Short Track Speed Skating
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1993, 1994, 1996, 1998

World Champion (overall), short track speed skating

1994

Bronze Medal, 1000m, Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games

2002

Gold Medal, 500m; Gold Medal 5000m relay; Bronze Medal 1500m,  Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games

2008

Inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

1998

Gold Medal, 5000m. relay, Nagano Winter Olympic Games

Honoured Member MARC GAGNON
Inspire

Story

Marc Gagnon called it the "end of a journey." The short track speed skating superstar from Chicoutimi, Quebec, had just won his first individual gold medal at the Olympic Games after being a dominant force in the sport for almost a decade. It was February 23, 2002, in Salt Lake City, his third Olympics. Then 26, Gagnon was already a four-time overall winner at the world championships, but the missing piece was a first-place finish in an individual event at the Olympics. His breakthrough came in the 500 metres. He reached the final of the 500 in the previous two Games, but fell each time. Gagnon wasn't to be denied this time. He was fourth going into the last lap but a late burst gave him a dramatic win in the semifinal when he edged Korean star Dong-Sung Kim at the finish line. In the final, Gagnon battled thoughts of his previous falls and made his move in the next to last turn. "All I had missing was an individual gold medal and I wanted it," said Gagnon, who won his first world title in 1993 at age 17. "I finally forgot about (the falls) and said, 'All right, time to go.' " Gagnon's Olympic night to remember wasn't over. Just 90 minutes later, he anchored Canada's 5,000-metre relay team to gold. He fought off fatigue and put off fully celebrating his own gold to help his teammates. "I knew I had three other guys counting on me." The relay win gave Gagnon his third medal in Salt Lake City, including a bronze in the 1,500 metres, and his fifth Olympic medal overall. At the time, it made Gagnon the most decorated of Canadian winter Olympians. He eclipsed fellow speed skater Gaetan Boucher's mark of four medals. What he later called the greatest night of his life almost didn't happen. Gagnon, who started speed skating at age four, decided to retire from the sport shortly after the 1998 world championships. He figured he could walk away with his two Olympic medals and his sparkling record from the world championships. "Something like a month or a month-and-a-half later, I realized I wasn't finished," said Gagnon, who officially launched his comeback after a year-long break. It was difficult at first, but he started winning competitions again in 2001 and then got the missing piece to his legendary career in 2002. It truly was a journey. "Everything just came out at the right time, at the right place." (Written by Gordie Sutherland. Gordie is a web editor with the Chronicle Herald in Halifax.)


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