CBC Digital Archives

1992 Barcelona Olympics: Sylvie Frechette

Alex Baumann was best, stalwart Sylvie Frechette showed grace and Donovan Bailey left his rivals in the dust. From 1984 to 2000, CBC Radio and Television followed Canadian athletes chasing Olympic gold. They were the fastest and the strongest and they had Canadians from coast to coast smiling a little wider and cheering a little louder.

media clip
Sylvie Frechette can barely keep up with her mail. On average, the Québécoise synchronized swimmer receives between 50 and 60 letters a day from fans across the country. The bubbly athlete is praised for her flawless performance at the Barcelona Olympics. But more significantly, Frechette is commended for her gracious and courageous attitude after a computer error robbed her of gold. As heard in this CBC Radio interview, Frechette has returned to Canada a celebrity in demand.
• A computer error by the Brazilian judge, Ana Maria da Silveira, cost Frechette the gold. During Frechette's compulsory figures event, da Silveira accidentally typed in 8.7 instead of 9.7 and immediately tried to correct her mistake to no avail. The marks were posted and finalized despite protests from Team Canada and da Silveira.

• Even though Frechette performed magnificently in her free routine the following day, she could not make up the difference lost due to da Silveira's error. When she was awarded silver, she stoically remarked, "There was a mistake, but that is part of my sport. I cannot change anything. I did my very best."

• Before the Barcelona Olympics, Frechette grappled with personal tragedy. Her grandfather passed away in January and, in the week before she was scheduled to leave for Spain, Frechette's boyfriend Sylvain Lake committed suicide.
• The American swimmer, Kristen Babb-Sprague, was awarded the gold medal. Babb-Sprague is married to former Toronto Blue Jay Ed Sprague.

• On Dec. 15, 1993, Frechette's performance was at long last recognized. After a campaign led by Canadian IOC member Dick Pound, the International Amateur Swimming Federation and the International Olympic Committee agreed to reverse their earlier decision. In an emotional ceremony, Frechette was finally presented with the gold medal.
• Frechette and Sprague are both recorded as the 1992 gold medallists in the solo synchronized swimming event.

• After Frechette retired from amateur sport in 1992, she accepted a public relations position with the National Bank of Canada. But Frechette returned to the pool and represented Canada again at the Atlanta Olympics where she won a silver medal in the team event.
• Shortly after the 1996 Olympics, Frechette moved to Las Vegas to be the aquatic designer and coach for the Cirque de Soleil underwater production O.
• In 1999, Frechette was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

• Canada had a very successful showing at the Barcelona Games and collected seven gold, four silver and seven bronze medals. The gold medallists included: Mark McKoy (110-metre steeple); Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean (rowing); John Wallace, Bruce Robertson, Mike Forgeron, Darren Barber, Robert Marland, Michael Rascher, Andrew Crosby, Derek Porter and Terrence Paul (men's eight rowing); Kirsten Barnes, Brenda Taylor, Megan Delehanty, Shannon Crawford, Marnie McBean, Kay Worthington, Jessica Monroe, Kathleen Heddle and Lesley Thompson (women's eight rowing); Kristen Barnes, Brenda Taylor, Jessica Monroe and Kay Worthington (women's four rowing); Mark Tewksbury (100-metre backstroke); and Sylvie Frechette (solo synchronized swimming).
Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Aug. 28, 1992
Guest(s): Sylvie Fréchette
Host: Barbara Budd, Ann Medina
Duration: 6:57

Last updated: July 18, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Running Off Track: The Ben Johnson Story

In 1976, Benjamin Sinclair Johnson was just a skinny immigrant kid struggling to make his high...

Going for Dope: Canada and Drugs in Sport

From stimulants to steroids, growth hormones and even gene therapy, high-performance athletes ...

Getting the Games: Canada's Olympic Bids, ext...

It might be the most ruthless of all Olympic competitions: the race for the right to host the ...

Politics and the Olympics

Every four years, the countries of the world gather to celebrate athletic achievement in an at...

1996: Donovan Bailey wins gold at Atlanta Oly...

Not silver, not bronze - only gold will suffice for sprinter Donovan Bailey.

50 Years of Olympic Broadcasting

From Melbourne to Montreal, Munich to Mexico City, the CBC has roamed the planet to beam Olymp...