Canadian short track speed skater Charles Hamelin is hoping Sochi 2014 will produce a repeat of Vancouver 2010, where he won 500m gold and his brother Francois and fiancée Marianne Saint-Gelais also picked up short track medals.
Vancouver 2010 was an unforgettable occasion for Charles Hamelin. The short track speed skater claimed double gold, first claiming the 500m, and then helping Canada to the 5,000m team relay title, in which he had the added satisfaction of climbing onto the podium with his younger brother Francois. And then, for the icing on the cake, he also saw his girlfriend Marianne Saint-Gelais collect two silvers at the Pacific Coliseum. Keen to repeat those triumphs, the Quebec trio are now hoping to star on the ice at Sochi, where Yves Hamelin, father of Charles and Francois, will also be on duty as Canada’s short track team coach.
Looking ahead to the big event, the older of the Hamelin brothers said: “Training has been intense right from the day after the last Olympic Games, and we’ve been focusing on nothing else but Sochi 2014. We have this burning desire to represent our country again and get back on the podium, all with the hope of repeating our achievements.”
Way back in autumn 2010, Hamelin explained how he would be preparing for Sochi: “My goal is to try new strategies to make myself more dangerous for 2014. Now it's not to win medals, but to work on things that are difficult mentally - to put myself in situations where I'm not always in control, so that even if I'm last, I won't panic and do stupid things.”
Taking it to the next level
The Canadian star has managed to stay at the summit throughout the current Olympic cycle. He served further notice of his ability over longer distances by winning gold medals with the national 5,000m relay team at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in 2011 and 2012, and adding the 3,000m relay title in 2013. On the individual front, meanwhile, he finished runner-up in the 1,000m and 1,500m events at the 2011 Worlds, where he also won overall silver.
His appetite for medals unsated, Hamelin is anxious to excel in Russia alongside his nearest and dearest: “When you start to win medals you forget about all the hours and hours of training. Our goal since 2010 has been to become even better athletes by the time Sochi comes around. I am on top form right now and I really believe I can do it.” Hamelin says he has become “more ruthless” and his recent performances back that up. In the four ISU Short Track World Cup stages between September and November 2013, he claimed no less than six victories.
Although the South Koreans, Chinese and Americans are sure to provide particularly intense competition, the Hamelin clan are working hard to be in the right physical and mental shape at Sochi and to get their tactics spot on.
There were few more emotional sights at Vancouver 2010 than Hamelin hugging girlfriend Marianne after his 500m win in Vancouver, a scene that that had the whole of Canada reaching for their hankies. Asked if we might be in for a repeat in Sochi, he replied: “It was a magical and totally spontaneous moment. If it happens again, it will be for real and there’ll be nothing staged about it, though it won’t come as quite such a surprise as it did then. Sochi will be my third Games, and overall I feel my career is shaping up to be a pretty successful one.”
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