Sports fans, the Sochi Olympics are 100 days away. Huzzah! And we’ve got you covered—athlete profiles, lack of snow, presence of palm trees, torches in outer space, Lindsey and Tiger, politics, Putin, medal favourites, exclusive interviews, facts about biathlon, curling terms. You name it, we’ve got it.
And we’re kicking things off with a bang.
Short track speed skating is the NASCAR of the Olympic Games and Canada is home to one of the world’s most consistent and dominant skaters: Charles Hamelin. The 29-year-old from Levis, Que., is one of Canada’s best shots at a four-medal haul in Sochi. That would be a record for a Canadian male at an Olympics, surpassing both Marc Gagnon (three in 2002) and Gaetan Boucher (three in 1984).
Hamelin won two gold medals fewer than 30 minutes apart in Vancouver to become the lone Canadian to take home double gold. You may recall his track-side celebration with girlfriend Marianne St-Gelais—she also won two silver medals in 2010—after his 500m win.
Hamelin currently leads world cup rankings, and is coming off a four-medal performance at the 2013 world championships. In Sochi he’ll compete in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 5000m relay. “Right now, nobody can beat him,” says former teammate and five-time Olympic medallist, Francois-Louis Tremblay, who recently retired. “He’s on top of his game. I’ve never seen him that strong, as long as I trained with him. He’s winning everything a lot easier than he used to.”
Here are exerts from an interview with Hamelin before he kicked off the Olympic season.
On short track pain: “Oh yeah. Every day is painful. Actually, doing short track, you have to love pain. It’s something that you have to learn from the beginning. When you start to love it, I think you’re good to go for everything else in life.”
On how Sochi can compare to Vancouver: “I think whatever the result I have in Sochi it will not reach the joy and the excitement and the fun I had in Vancouver. The day that I won my two medals in Vancouver was the best day of my life. I won in Canada, my country, with my family in the stands, with everyone watching me all around the country. For an athlete, doing that at home, it’s priceless.”
On the possibility of four gold medals in Sochi: “I was expecting that question. [Laughs]. If I win the four distances, if I win everything, I think it will be, I don’t know, tied for the best day of my life. It would be amazing.”
On his start in short track speed skating: “I started when I was nine. I wasn’t good until I was about 16. But my dad was my coach and my brother [Francois, who’s also Sochi-bound] was on the team, and it was so fun, so I kept with it.”
Watch Hamelin win Olympic 500m gold in Vancouver: