Speed ​​Skating | Charles Hamelin, for the last time

The time has come. And he promises to be strong in emotion. Short track speed skating legend Charles Hamelin will be gliding on his long blades for the very last time this weekend at the World Championships in Montreal.

Updated yesterday at 6:01 p.m.

Catherine Harvey Pinard

Catherine Harvey Pinard
The Press

“If you had told the Charles Hamelin of 2001 who made his first Junior Worlds that he would still be there at 37, he would not have believed you and would have been a little on his ass”, launched the skater, Wednesday afternoon.

“You just have to love what you do, believe in your dreams and go for it. Everything can happen. »

While the Worlds should not begin until Friday morning, the emotion was already palpable between the walls of the Maurice-Richard arena, Wednesday, during the press conference of the Canadian skaters – the same ones who took part in the Games Beijing Olympics.

Hamelin was, naturally, the center of attention. Some of his teammates have also been invited to speak on the page of history which will turn in a few days.

“I’m going to be emotional,” Kim Boutin first breathed, the tremolo in her voice and her eyes full of water.


PHOTO DAVID BOILY, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Kim Boutin

Charles has been a role model for so many athletes. Experiencing this here for the last time is just amazing. That the crowd is there for him, I find it beautiful. I’m having trouble speaking at the moment…Charles has been a role model throughout my career. It was through him that I believed in my dreams, that I believed that I could write my own story.

Kim Boutin

Hamelin, commonly nicknamed the Locomotive of Sainte-Julie, was also struggling to contain his emotions. “You want to make me cry, right? “, he launched, causing a collective laugh, when a journalist asked him to react to this tribute.

“It’s a bit surreal,” he continued. I’ve been here for so long, skating, it’s normal to compete… This is the last one. Hearing that is sure to pick me up. It makes me emotional. But what I love most about all of this is that I’m confident that this gang will perpetuate what I’ve been doing for so many years with the other teams, the other skaters who have retired .

“Now it’s my turn. But they are there to take the lead. Behind, there are young people who are growing, who are there. You will discover young people who want to work, write their own story. »

In front of Violet


PHOTO PHILIPPE BOIVIN, ARCHIVES SPECIAL COLLABORATION

Charles Hamelin returning from the Beijing Olympics with his wife, Geneviève Tardif, and their daughter, Violette

The six-time Olympic medalist will only take part in one event, the 5000m relay, alongside his Olympic teammates Steven Dubois, Pascal Dion, Jordan Pierre-Gilles and Maxime Laoun. The 37-year-old athlete has chosen not to compete in any individual event to take full advantage of the moment, without too much pressure.

There will be, in the stands, about fifty members of his family. Of the lot, his spouse and his daughter. It will be the first and the last time that little Violette will see her daddy at work.

I didn’t want my daughter to miss this. We bought her her little earmuffs so the noise of the crowd wouldn’t bother her too much, but I just can’t wait to have her with me during the competition so she can feel the atmosphere. She sees me on TV, she knows I skate, but I want her to feel the energy of the crowd in a competition. I look forward.

Charles Hamelin

Obviously, his teammates will want to offer Hamelin one last medal, his 38and in World Championships. But there is no question of additional pressure.

“We know what we have to do,” said Pascal Dion. We do our job. Charles, like any other guy, accepts error. If we are daring, if we try to go for it and race to win… If there is a mistake, too bad. But I think we’re happier if the group’s attitude is one of winners. I don’t think anyone is going to hold back, and we’re going to try to go for it to win this. »

A local crowd

Canadian skaters have had to train in uncertainty over the past few weeks. About two months ago, it was announced that the event would ultimately not take place in Montreal. Then, the Russian invasion in Ukraine changed the plans again: it was in the metropolis that the Worlds were going to take place, but in April rather than in March.

This will be the first time in two years that representatives of the maple leaf will have the opportunity to compete in front of family and friends. The arena will be filled to capacity on Saturday and Sunday.

“One of the things I love most about my life is that,” Hamelin said. To have the crowd behind us screaming for you to do things you didn’t even think you could do. I hope it will happen to guys and girls because it’s an amazing feeling. »

On the women’s side, New Brunswicker Courtney Sarault will defend her 1500m world vice-champion title won last year in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. Alyson Charles and Kim Boutin will also take part in individual events.

On the men’s side, World Cup 1000m leader Pascal Dion, along with Jordan Pierre-Gilles and Steven Dubois will be at work in the individual distances. Dubois will try to continue his momentum, he who won three medals at his first Olympic Games, last February.

“The way I feel right now, I really think I can do something great this weekend,” he said. […] I will try to keep what I did which worked well at the Games and apply it at the end of the week. But I’m not overconfident. I will approach him without any expectation. »

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