Who is Charles Hamelin?
Short track beginnings
Charles Hamelin was born on April 14th, 1984 in Levis, Quebec, Canada. His first sport was baseball, and his father, Yve, coached his youth team. But Charles’s younger brother, Francois, started skating and soon both Charles and Yves followed Francois onto the ice.
Yves Hamelin eventually became Canada’s national team program director before taking over as the director of the Olympic Oval in Calgary. Francois is also an Olympic short track skater, and competed alongside Charles at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games.
Charles Hamelin was 20 years old when he claimed his first world championships medals, silver in the 500m and gold with the Canadian men in the 5000m relay, at the 2005 World Championships. His performances there earned him a fourth-place overall finish.
A year later, Hamelin made his Olympic debut at the 2006 Torino Winter Games and won his first Olympic medal: a silver in the men’s 5000m relay. He also finished fourth in the 1500m, his only individual event.
Four years later, Hamelin entered the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as a two-time world champion in the 500m and a favorite to win multiple golds in front of a home crowd. The first few days of competition were underwhelming for Hamelin, as he finished fourth in the 1000m final and was eliminated in the 1500m semifinal.
But on the final night of competition, Hamelin turned in two golden performances within one hour. He won gold in the 500m and then claimed his second gold with his teammates, including his younger brother, Francois, in the men’s 5000m relay.
Hamelin started the 2014 Sochi Olympics strong, winning gold, his fourth career Olympic medal, in the 1500m final. However, he crashed during the early rounds of the 500m and 1000m events and didn’t reach any more individual finals. In the men's relay event, Hamelin and the Canadian men finished sixth.
Hamelin has collected 35 world championships medals, including six overall medals, from 2005 to 2017.
He’s won two world titles since the 2014 Sochi Olympics: the 1500m title in 2014, and the 1000m title in 2016. At the most recent world championships, Hamelin picked up just one medal, a bronze in the 1000m.
Hamelin, now 33 years old, turned in several strong performances at this season's World Cup competitions. Over the course of four World Cup stops in October and November 2017, Hamelin won three gold and two bronze medals, all coming in the 1500m and men's relay events.
Hamelin has won a gold medal in three out of the four short track distances competed at the Olympics, and will complete his collection if he wins 1000m gold in PyeongChang. Russia’s Viktor Ahn already completed the gold medal short track sweep with his winning performances at the 2006 Torino and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Hamelin became an Olympic hero for his medal-winning performances, but it was the post-race celebrations with his fiance, Marianne St-Gelais, that turned both Hamelin and St-Gelais into Canadian icons.
St-Gelais is also a Canadian short track skater who competed at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. She’s won three Olympic medals, all silver: in the 500m in Vancouver, and in the 3000m relay with the Canadian women at both the Vancouver and Sochi Olympics.
But she’s also become known for her ebullient reactions to Hamelin’s races. After Hamelin won the 500m gold in Vancouver, St-Gelais rushed down to the stands to celebrate with her then-boyfriend. Their passionate kiss at the boards of the rink became one of the Vancouver Olympics’ most enduring images, especially among Canadians. They repeated the celebratory rink-side embrace again when Hamelin won 1500m gold in Sochi.
Now engaged, they plan to marry after the PyeongChang Olympics. They also say they’ll both likely retire from short track after the 2018 Games.
"Me and Marianne, we are crying of joy. I remember all the good things that were with us in that moment. Whenever I see an image from the Olympics, it always gives me chills, goose bumps." -- Charles Hamelin to The Star on his memorable celebration with Marianne St-Gelais at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics