Silken Laumann’s career as a Canadian rower and Olympian was defined by her bronze medal win at the 1992 Summer Olympics, 10 weeks after a rowing accident that shattered her right ankle. Her triumph at the 1992 Games is chronicled in her book Unsinkable where readers are taken through how it happened and her recovery.
However, her book is not only about the accident that defined her career, it’s also about her childhood in Mississauga, her parents complex relationship, her mother’s struggle with trauma and mental illness, and her personal challenges and triumphs. I enjoyed her openness and advocacy, and found the documentation of her mother and their relationship fascinating.
Since retiring from rowing in 1999, Laumann has turned to writing and speaking engagements as her main source of income, which, in reality, is rare for retired-elite-level athletes in Canada, which she readily acknowledges. The lack of financial support Canada offers its athletes, as well as typical struggles that athletes face when transitioning from competition to retirement, is an important conversation too often ignored.
A couple of interesting tidbits: Laumann and retired rower Marnie McBean had a competitive and almost adversarial relationship while part of the Canadian National Rowing Team , and Laumann is married to GoodLife Fitness founder David Patchell-Evans.