Back where it began: Olympic gold winning rower returns to Cape Breton roots
MAIN-A-DIEU, N.S. -- Nearly 30 years after he put his Cape Breton hometown on the map, Olympic gold medallist Mike Forgeron is back in Main-à-Dieu, and back on the water.
As the Tokyo Olympics play out, Forgeron is back home on the Mira River, on some of the waters where his rowing career began.
"This is the first time in two years I've been able to come home, and go out in the community and wander around,” says Forgeron.
Forgeron is spending the summer in Main-à-Dieu, nearly 30 years after he put his hometown on the map by winning a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Decades later, Forgeron still loves sharing those memories – and his medal – with people.
"It lets people touch the Olympics, right? I bring it out, I show people. They chat to me, they realize I'm somebody from Main-à-Dieu,” says Forgeron.
Now, Forgeron has passed on his passion of rowing to his 18-year-old daughter Hannah.
“I’d watch the Olympics when I was young. Then when I was 13, I was able to start rowing myself,” says Hannah.
Though her father won gold well before Hannah was born, it didn’t take long for her to follow in her dad’s footsteps. Now, she’s a competitive rower herself.
“’He would bring me down when I was a kid, and I’d just be around the club,” recalls Hannah. “When I started rowing, people there would always say they remember me when I was, you know, that small.”
Rowing together on the Cape Breton water where Forgeron first fell in love with the sport is a special bond between father and daughter.
“It lets me stay fit and compete. It’s fab. I get to watch her too, and I get to watch how she’s better at certain things than I was,” says Forgeron.
“We ran into a lobster fishing boat the other day, and we had to pull aside. So that was a bit of a neat experience,” says Hannah.
Both Hannah and Mike have been glued to this year’s Olympic games.
While having a father who is an Olympic gold medallist is what got her into rowing in the first place, Hannah says the performance of Canadian women at this year’s Olympics is really inspiring her.
“You’re seeing people close to your age, taking over the world for your country,” says Hannah.
“The female athletes are just kicking it this year,” adds Mike.
While his Olympic days are well behind him, Mike says he’s happy to still be active in the sport with the knowledge that his place in Canadian Olympic history will last forever.
“I still do a lot of rowing, still do a lot of racing, and I try to stay involved in the community where I can,” says Mike.
These days, sharing the sport he loves with his daughter, and being back home, is just as good as any gold medal.