Lawrence Lemieux

Lawrence Lemieux

Lawrence Lemieux (born November 12, 1955 in Edmonton, Alberta) is a Canadian sailor, who competed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in the Finn class.

On September 24, 1988, the sailing competition was underway at Pusan, 450 kilometers from South Korea's capital of Seoul, the main Olympic site. The conditions for sailing had unexpectedly become dangerous. Acceptable winds of fifteen knots had escalated at times to 35 knots. The waters were playing havoc with boats and crews. In the 470 class, two sailors on the Singapore team, Joseph Chan and Shaw Her Siew, were thrown into the water, suffering injuries and unable to right their boat. The situation was a dangerous one.

Sailing alone near the half point in his race on the nearby Finn class race course, Lemieux was then in second place in this, the fifth of a seven race event, and was given a good chance to win one of the medals. But still, Lemieux immediately took action, forgetting his own race and sailing toward Joseph Chan in the 470 class. As the Canadian was dragging Chan aboard, his own boat began filling with water. Successfully rescuing Chan, Lemieux immediately headed toward Shaw Her Siew, who was clinging tenaciously to his overturned boat. Lemieux performed the same rescue operation and now both Singaporean sailors were in his boat. But for Lemieux victory was impossible. He waited for an official patrol boat to reach him, then transferred the two men. Lemieux then continued in his race, but the loss of time during the rescue operation put him out of contention. He finished 22nd in a race that started with 32 boats.

Soon after the race, the story of the rescue reached the jury of the International Yacht Racing Union. They unanimously decided that Lemieux should be awarded second place for this, the position he was in when he went to the aid of the Singapore crew.

Though Lemieux did not win a medal in the overall seven race competition, at the medal awards ceremony Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International Olympic Committee, awarded Lemieux the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for Sportsmanship, and paid honour to Lemieux for his act.

"By your sportsmanship, self-sacrifice and courage," said Samaranch, "you embody all that is right with the Olympic ideal."

Lemieux has since retired from sailing and is now a coach.


* [ 1988 recap on CBC]
* [ Lemieux's sportsmanship still recognized]

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