2000 Canadian Sport Awards
ALSO ON SLAM!
Annie Perreault's story is one of family and perseverance. Competing at her second Olympic Games in Nagano, Perreault put together a brilliant strategically-sound race to win the gold medal in the women's 500 metre short track speed skating event.
Her on-ice celebration was one of the lasting images of the Games. She raised her arms just a few steps before the finish line then headed straight to her coach and sister Maryse for a big bear hug. Tears flowed freely, hardly surprising because Perreault was far from an overnight success and overcame some tought hurdles to clench that gold medal.
Perreault already possessed an Olympic gold earned as part of Canada's relay that placed first at the 1992 Games in Albertville. But following that Olympic success there were some tough times for the 27-year-old Perreault. In 1994 she crashed and suffered a concussion which eliminated her from contention for a spot on the Lillehammer team.
Then in 1997 she was forced to undergo leg surgery. And of course just making the 1998 Olympic short track team was tough enough with the number of world class skaters in Canada.
But leading up to Nagano she found inspiration in her family. She was now coached by Maryse Perreault, a former world champion and one of the sport's trailblazers in the early eighties. Annie had followed her sister's footsteps into short track at age six and made the national team at age 16.
But perhaps her biggest inspiration was just a few weeks before Nagano. Her father Fernand, a former Hydro Quebec employee came out of retirement when the ice storm paralyzed the province of Quebec and worked for three weeks logging over 16 hours a day. His daughter would later excel on ice as well.