Cross Country Checkup·Ask Me Anything

Olympian Silken Laumann on abuse in coaching, her accident and staying motivated

Three-time Olympic medallist Silken Laumann took calls from Cross Country Checkup listeners during an Ask Me Anything segment on sports and mental health.

The 3-time medallist took calls from Cross Country Checkup listeners

Silken Laumann is pictured during Olympic single sculls heat in Banyoles, Spain in July 1992. Despite an injured leg, Laumann won bronze for Canada. (Hans Deryk/Canadian Press)

Each week, Cross Country Checkup devotes the program's last half hour to an interview with a high-profile newsmaker, celebrity, thinker or cultural figure who takes calls from listeners.

When it comes to coaching, and what turns tough talk into abuse, Olympian Silken Laumann says it comes down to respect.

"Crossing the line is when you're not respecting an athlete and you're not respecting where they might be at," she told Cross Country Checkup guest host Michelle Eliot on Sunday during a phone-in on the topic.

She also took calls from listeners as part of the program's regular Ask Me Anything segment.

The three-time Olympic medallist answered questions about the accident that nearly kept her from competing in the 1992 summer games and what keeps her motivated.

Calling from Chatham, Ont., Adam Quinlan asked Laumann how she dealt with the trauma of an accident that severely damaged her leg when an opponent's boat collided with hers. At the time, Laumann had been favoured to win gold at the upcoming Summer Olympics.

"My goal was just to get to the Olympics, really, when I was on the hospital bed," Laumann said.

"Right from the beginning, I envisioned what I wanted, not what I didn't want."

She says that while many people have a habit of worrying about what they don't want to happen, athletes are "really good" at focusing on what they do want to to happen.

"I just utilized that intense focus at that time, and it really worked to my benefit," she added. Despite her injury, Laumann won bronze and went on to carry the flag for Canada during the closing ceremony.

To hear more from Silken Laumann, download our Ask Me Anything podcast or click Listen above.


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