The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Caroline Brunet

Kayaking

1999


Photo of Caroline Brunet winning a race

Photo of Caroline Brunet winning a race

Date
August 29, 1999
Collection
The Canadian Press/Felice Calagro

For the love of it!

Sprint kayaker Caroline Brunet got just a little bit greedy in 1999! She swept gold in every individual discipline at the Canoe Sprint World Championship in Milan, Italy, with victories in the 200, 500 and 1000 metre events. She and her partner Karen Furneaux missed gold by a scant two-tenths of a second in the K-2 500 metre, settling for silver.

Earlier in the season, she completed the gold medal sweep in the same four events at the elite Duisburg International Regatta in Germany, which ranks only behind the Olympics and the World Championship in prominence.

At thirty years old, she is at the top of her sport and she isn’t leaving anything on the table for her competition, but then she doesn’t leave anything behind in her preparation either. The kayak sprint demands power, superb fitness and precise technique. She credits Danish coach, Christian Frederiksen, a former world champion canoer, with helping her become one of the most efficient paddlers in the world. It has been a relentless pursuit to go faster. Translation – achieve technical superiority on the water while sustaining a gruelling physical and aerobic training regimen to build the ‘engine’ that will drive you to the front. A night out at the movies for Caroline means going over hours and hours of video looking for tiny nuances in that quest to build the perfect stroke.

The payoff for Caroline is simple. Approaching any start line she is fortified by the belief that there could not possibly be anyone training any harder. This does not reflect cockiness, rather, confidence that the homework has been done.

Yes, Caroline Brunet is a fierce competitor. She remembers constantly luring her older brothers into running races when she was seven or eight years old. At school she challenged her teachers to 100 or 200 metre foot races. Look out!

Then at twelve she won her very first kayak event on Lac Beauport, the lake in Quebec she grew up on. She will never forget that victory and that utterly wonderful sensation of winning. She knew then, she had found her sport. Caroline Brunet doesn’t compete for notoriety or awards. She is completely driven by that love of winning to be the best that she can be.

After her World Championship wins in Milan, The Toronto Star ran her story in a peculiar layout that prompted some reflection. Bracketed directly underneath the headline Brunet’s paddle plated with gold, and right next to her story, is a picture of Tiger Woods bearing the caption Tiger Woods becomes the first golfer to crack $4 million (U.S.) barrier for earnings in one year. Brunet’s Paddle Plated with Gold. (1999, August 30). Toronto Star, p. E1.

The world’s dominant athletes in their respective sports, the similarities in their work ethic and competitiveness are many. But while one dips into a personal bank account to fund living and training expenses in a relatively obscure amateur sport; the other has hit the jackpot in a highly visible professional sport commanding tens of millions in endorsements alone. Despite the spectacular compensation, no one would question Tiger’s love for the game; yet somehow Caroline’s pure and undeniable commitment, passion, and love for her sport seem extra special. A tip of the hat to a great athlete!

Brunet’s the best Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1993
Canoe Sprint World Championships – Bronze medal in K-1 500m
1994
Canoe Sprint World Championships – Bronze medal in K-1 200m and K-4 200m
1995
Canoe Sprint World Championships – Gold medal in K-4 200m, Silver medal in K-1 200m and K-1 500m
1996
Atlanta Summer Olympic Games – Silver medal in K-1 500m
1997
Canoe Sprint World Championships – Gold medal in K-1 200m, K-1 500m and K-1 1000m
1997
Set world record in Women K-1 1000m of 3:53.874
1999
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
1999
Canoe Sprint World Championships – Gold medal in K-1 200m, K-1 500m and K-1 1000m, Silver medal in K-2 500m
1999,2000
Velma Springstead Award
2000
Sydney Summer Olympic Games – Silver medal in K-1 500m
2002
Canoe Sprint World Championships – Silver medal in K-1 200m and K-1 500m
2003
Canoe Sprint World Championships – Gold medal in K-1 200m, Silver medal in K-1 500m, Bronze medal in K-2 1000m
2004
Athens Summer Olympic Games – Bronze medal in K-1 500m