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Silken Laumann



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Rowing star Laumann ‘honoured’ by Marsh win

Thursday, December 19, 1991

By Mark Zwolinski

She rules over her world with a set of oars as her sceptre.

Silken Laumann, crowned the new queen of rowing for wining the sport’s two most prestigious events this year, was named yesterday the 1991 Lou Marsh Award winner as Canada’s outstanding athlete.

The personable 27-year-old from Mississauga, who decided to train with the Canadian men’s team, to improve on a seventh-place finish at the 1989 world championships, edges out an impressive field, including Canadian and world figure skating champion Kurt Browning, world-ranked decathlete Michael Smith, and hockey stars Eric Lindros and Ed Belfour.

“I’m shocked, I mean I had a feeling I’d be nominated but I never thought I’d win,” Laumann said late last night after a long plane trip from Victoria to North Cape Corral, Fla. where she plans to spend the Christmas holidays with her mother.

“For me to win is, well I just can’t tell you how glad I am, especially as a woman and as a rower…we just don’t get the recognition other athletes do. I have a lot of respect for the athletes (nominated for the award) and I am really honoured.”

The award, first handed out in 1936 in memory of former Star sports editor and columnist Lou Marsh, is open to all Canadian athletes.

Sports editors from the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Globe and Mail and Canadian Press, as well as veteran Star columnist Milt Dunnell, formed the selection committee headed by former Canadian Football League commissioner Jake Gaudaur (who was a non-voting participant).

Browning won the award last year over Smith and Mark Messier, the former Edmonton Oiler Captain who is now with the New York Rangers. Former Olympic and world synchronized swimming champion Carolyn Waldo was the last female to win the award, in 1988.

Laumann will receive her award in a special presentation by Gaudaur during the Conn Smythe Sports Celebrities Dinner Feb. 6 at the Metro Convention Centre.

Laumann shocked the rowing world and became the undisputed queen in the sport after winning the single sculls gold medal at the world championships in Vienna last August. It was one of a record four golds for Canada and have Laumann rowing’s coveted double; in July, she won the overall World Cup crown, a grueling six-event series, at Lucerne, Switzerland.

“I think the biggest change I’ve made in my career was to drop everything and move out to Victoria and train with Mike Spracklen,” Laumann said. “Yes, the training is hard … but to make that commitment as an amateur athlete was quite a leap. I mean, I gave up on everything, even my status as a carded athlete, to devote myself to training.

“My friends and family thought I was a little off the all, but now, with the way everything had gone, it’s a lot easier to look back and say it all paid off. But it was scary for a while at the beginning.”

While she enters the Barcelona Olympics as the defending world champion, Laumann is no stranger to Olympic competition, having competed in both the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and the 1988 Games in Seoul.

In her 1984 effort, she teamed with her sister and finished with a bronze medal in double sculls. In Seoul, Mississauga’s Kay Worthington was her partner but the pair placed seventh.

“It’s going to be a huge, huge battle to win that gold medal,” said Laumann, who will resume four-a-day training sessions back in Victoria once the holiday’s are over.

“But I know what I have to do. It’s not as hard for me as other athletes because I don’t have as much media pressure.”

DREAM YEAR: As the Lou Marsh Award winner, Silken Laumann beat out such big names as skater Kurt Browning and hockey star Eric Lindros.

Laumann wins Marsh Award

Silken Laumann, 27, had been named the winner of the Lou Marsh Award as the Canadian athlete of the year.

The Mississauga rower achieved world renown when she won the gold medal in the open sculls event at the 1991 global championships.

“I’m shocked! I mean I had a feeling I’d be nominated but I never thought I’d win,” Laumann said.

Laumann was chosen for the award, named in honour of a former Star sports editor, by a selection committee comprising representatives from The Star, the Globe and Mail, the Sun and Canadian Press.