- Short Track
Calm, cool, collected: Charles Hamelin
At 2:35 p.m. on a Monday, Charles Hamelin is at the ice rink where he trains for the second time in the day, patiently answering questions he’s probably heard a million times.
“We skated this morning from 10:00- 12:30 and we went back home, have a dinner, I’m back at the rink right now just to do interviews and stuff like that, but usually we come back to the rink at 3 or so to do another training on ice and after the ice we jump into the gym to do our weight session,” Hamelin said.
Hamelin, the Canadian short track speed skater and double Olympic gold medalist, will skate in his third Olympics in Sochi. He won gold in the 500m and the 5000m men’s relay in Vancouver and silver in the relay in Torino. He’s as good as it gets in short track, and at 29 years old, he hasn’t slowed down. He was the overall World Cup champion this year, finishing first in the overall standings for the 1000m and second in the overall standings for the 500m and 1500m.
For a man who has accomplished nearly everything in the skating world, he’s polite, quiet, and downright grateful to be in the position he is.
“Just to be in Sochi is a really big accomplishment for me because it shows that I’ve been here on the circuit for the last 12 years-- I’ve been to Torino, to Vancouver, and now I’m going to Sochi,” Hamelin said. “And just to be able to race at that level for that amount of years just shows that I did the work I had to do to make myself the best I can.”
Even though Hamelin said he’s not ready to say for sure that Sochi will be his last Olympics, he did say that “my future plan, right now in my head, I don’t see myself going to Pyeongchang in 2018.”
So approaching what could be his last Olympics, at the top of his game, is there more pressure than ever on Hamelin?
He says it’s just the opposite.
“I think I have a little bit less pressure from the media and stuff like that because the Olympics are not in Canada again. I think it’s an advantage for us to go into Sochi and go there with a little bit less pressure from the outside and make sure we're focused on our stuff and be ready for racing at the Olympics,” Hamelin said.
In what should be one of the most stressful periods of his life, both physically and mentally, he sounds comfortable and calm.
“I’m a faster skater, I’m stronger, I’m smarter in the race so I’m able to use different strategy to make myself more difficult to beat in races, and the hard work I put in the last four years paid off a lot and I think it’s a good moment right now,” Hamelin said.
He’s appreciating the stage rather than worrying about the results. Even his favorite personal Olympic memory is, in his words, “in Torino, actually like every moment, every place, everything I saw at those Olympics.”
Hamelin’s serene approach to skating is an olive branch of his life, where, despite a rigorous training schedule, he derives peace from his relationship with fellow Canadian short track skater Marianne St. Gelais, who won two silver medals in Vancouver.
“She brought me a lot of things, not only in skating, but in life. My personality changed a little bit with her since I’m with her, I think it’s the same thing for me. I made her change a little bit with the qualities that she had, she got better with her confidence and stuff like that, and on the other side, I’m a shy guy, I’m a guy that will not talk a lot and stuff like that, and since I’m with her, I’m expressing myself a little bit more and I go talk to people and it’s just good to do it, and I really love to be with Marianne," Hamelin said. "She’s doing the same thing as me, it’s a perfect fit,”
Charles Hamelin will likely have the opportunity to win multiple medals in Sochi, and for a man on the verge of the biggest event of his career, he’s balancing the happiness in his personal life with the drive to improve on his results. So don’t mistake Hamelin’s tranquility with contentment. It’s simply optimism.
“I would’ve liked to redo some races to make sure I was doing my best race, and I’m going to Sochi with the good memory of, even if I didn’t have the results at the beginning of the Vancouver Olympics, I was able to come back strong at the end and be able to win two gold medals with my teammates in short track,” Hamelin said.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Pair of short track golds for Canadian Charles Hamelin
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