With his short, spiky, dyed-blonde hair, half-a-dozen earrings and disarming smile, Marc Gagnon looks like the quintessential goateed rebel. But Gagnon’s looks do not tell the whole picture. He is an incredibly focused athlete with an unwavering dedication to the sport of speed skating. Marc has achieved a level of mental and physical fitness that translates into gold.
Marc started speed skating at three. His parents began teaching the sport and instead of spending money on a nanny they took Marc with them to the ice rink. At four, Marc put on his first pair of long blades to take part in a regional race. At fourteen, Marc started to dream about qualifying for the National Team. And at seventeen, Marc won his first short track World Championship.
Since then Marc Gagnon has won every major title in short track speed skating. He is a four-time overall World Cup champion, savouring Olympic glory in 1998 as part of the Canadian men’s relay team.
Beneath the laid-back veneer of the Chicoutimi, Que. native is a high-performance athlete who has successfully conquered nerves and insecurity over the years. Though he came away with a gold medal win at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, Gagnon admits nerves cost him. Determined to stay relaxed in Salt Lake City, his mental and physical focus paid off – two gold’s, one in the 500 metre and one in the 5000 relay, and a bronze in the 1500 metre.
Winning a total of five medals in three consecutive Winter Games made him the most decorated Canadian athlete in Winter Olympic history until 2006. He has now been overtaken by long track speed skater Cindy Klassen who has a total of 6 medals. Tied with track and field athlete Phil Edwards and long track speed skater/road cyclist Clara Hughes, he is one of the four most decorated Canadian athletes in all Olympic Games.
Gagnon won his World Championships in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998. In addition, he finished 2nd twice, and third once.
In 2008, Gagnon was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
“[Marc Gagnon] was definitely a crowd favourite. The cheer (particularly from the Quebecois and Quebecoise) that went up in the audience on his entrance was pretty special. I loved what he had to say about his quality as well.”
Maritz Canada – Honda Canada event