They are young, passionate, and in the best shape of their lives. For some, the Olympic Games in Rio will be a first, and for others, they will be another chance to make their dreams come true, and even possibly to achieve glory. These two weeks of Games, during which anything can happen, have been preceded by incredible sacrifices that our Olympians and Paralympians have had to make: family, friends, love, and even some guilty pleasures! But for Hugo Barrette, Olympian Katerine Savard, Émilie Fournel, her brother Hugues, and the multi-medalist Benoit Huot, they are well worth it.
Emilie and Hugues Fournel
Just a few days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio, Hugues Fournel had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming: following the suspension of a Russian athlete for doping infractions, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) granted Canoe-Kayak Canada an additional spot in the K2 (200 m), and it is Hugues Fournel and his teammate from the last Games, Ryan Cochrane, who were lucky enough to earn their ticket to their second Olympic competition.
Just over a month ago, Hugues saw his dream of participating in his second Games go down in flames when he narrowly missed qualifying for Rio, not to mention the opportunity to live the Olympic experience once again with his elder sister, Émilie Fournel, who had secured her third participation to the Games a little earlier.
For the Fournel siblings, kayaking has always been more than just a sport: it's a family affair! Their father participated in the Montréal Olympic Games in 1976, and their mother notably took part in the Paralympic Games in the same discipline. Though he passed away when they were still quite young, Jean Fournel remains a great source of inspiration for the two athletes. Wherever he goes, Hugo carries a shirt in which his father had competed in 1976, while Émilie occasionally reads the journal he had kept during his training for the Montréal Games.
Hence, both Fournel athletes will have the chance to be there for each other for a second time at the most important multi-sport competition in the world, with great hope of honouring the 40th anniversary of their father’s participation in the Olympic Games. Their respective performance objectives are clear: Émilie is aiming for nothing less than a podium, while Hugues is hoping to finish in the top 10. After having trained together all summer at Lac-Beauport, Quebec, they are now ready and raring to pursue their Olympic quest!
Competition schedule in Rio: Émilie | K1 500 m – August 17 and 18 Émilie | K4 1,500 m – August 19 and 20 Hugues | K2 200 m – August 17 and 18