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Sylvie Daigle

Photograph of Sylvie Daigle

(1962- )

Speed Skating

Source


Sylvie Daigle, a young energetic woman who loves challenges, was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec in 1962. The youngest in a family of six children, she grew up with her four sisters and her adopted brother. A competitive nature fueled her interest in, among other things, sports traditionally practised by men such as touch football, baseball and hockey. Moreover, it was her interest in this team sport on ice that indirectly started her on the path towards speed skating. Wishing to register for the women's hockey team, she went to the local arena where she discovered that the trainer intended to form a speed-skating club. Naturally gifted for this dangerous sport, she decided to devote herself to it and started training diligently. It was then, at the age of nine, that Sylvie Daigle discovered, by chance, her passion for a sport that she was to practise relentlessly for 15 years.

Since 1979, she has participated, and triumphed, in long-track events during the Canada Winter Games, winning gold in the 500-metre, 1000-metre and 1500-metre competitions. The following year in Lake Placid, Sylvie Daigle fully immersed herself in the Olympic adventure and finished 19th in the 500-metre.

At Sarajevo, she was 20th in the 500-metre, 25th in the 1000-metre and 22nd in the 1500-metre. Far from living up to her expectations, these performances disappointed the athlete who, in 1985 and 1987, underwent two operations aimed at relieving the pain in her knees. These muscular problems, from which Sylvie suffered since 1983, led her to re-direct her career. Consequently, in 1987, she decided to devote herself to short-track speed skating, which was introduced the following year as a demonstration sport at the Olympic Games in Calgary.

It was during these Winter Games in 1988 that Sylvie Daigle saw her efforts rewarded by her first Olympic victories. Five-time medallist, she won gold in the 1500-metre, silver in the 1000-metre and 3000-metre, and bronze in the 500-metre and 3000-metre relay. Four years later, made popular by the Calgary Games where it was a great success, short-track speed skating became an officially registered sport in the program. As gold medallist in the 3000-metre relay during the Albertville Olympic Games, she had the right, in 1992, to the title of Olympic Champion. However, although she and the other members of her team won gold in the relay, Sylvie Daigle had to be happy with 18th place in the 500-metre after a collision with American skater Cathy Turner during the preliminary round.

Following the Albertville Games, she changed course and launched herself into another great adventure by starting her medical studies at the Université de Montréal. However, the Olympic torch still burned within and she put off her project for several years to pursue her training, with the goal of participating in the Lillehammer Olympics. In 1994, she brought home a silver medal.

All-around World Champion in 1979, 1983, 1988, 1989 and 1990, Daigle also won many titles for various distances on a short track at the World Championships.

Throughout her brilliant career, Sylvie Daigle has obtained numerous distinctions. In 1979 and 1983, she was awarded the Elaine Tanner Trophy that honours the best junior athlete in Canada. On three occasions, in 1988, 1989 and 1991, she was named Female Athlete of the Year by the Canadian Speed Skating Association. In 1990, she won the Velma Springstead Trophy and became a member of the Olympic Hall of Fame a year later.

Sylvie Daigle left the world of skating in order to pursue her studies following the Lillehammer Games. She obtained a medical degree from the Université de Montréal in 1998.

Resources

Came, Barry. - "Friends, of a kind". - Maclean's. - Vol. 105, no. 5 (Feb. 1992). - P. 38

Fontaine, Patrice. - Dictionnaire La Presse des sports du Québec. - Montréal : Libre expression, 1996. - P. 86

Latreille, Pierre. - "Sylvie Daigle, une fille vite sur ses patins". - Châtelaine. - Vol. 33, no. 2 (fevrier 1992). - P. 8

Robillard, Guy. - "Super Sylvie". - Champion. - Vol. 14, no. 3 (winter 1991). - P. 9

Sauvé, Mathieu-Robert. - "Une championne en médecine". - @Forum [online]. - Vol. 33, no. 1 (septembre 1998). - [Cited June 13, 2000]. - Access: www.forum.umontreal.ca/numeros/1998-1999/ Forum98-9-8/article04.html

Sylvie Daigle ou la "blind date" d'une tenace [online]. - Radio-Canada - Sports amateurs - Les grands d'ici. - [Cited June 13, 2000]. - Access: http://radio-canada.ca/url.asp?/sportsamateurs/grandsdici/ nouvelles/200003/07/001-sylviedaigle.asp

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