Charles Hamelin’s legendary short track speed skating career came to an emotional end on Sunday, as the 37-year old led the Canadian men’s relay team to bronze at the ISU World Short Track Championships in Montreal.
A sold out crowd of nearly 3,500 fans cheered on Hamelin and his Olympic teammates Steven Dubois, Pascal Dion and Jordan Pierre-Gilles as they raced to a spot on the podium in their final race together and the final race of Hamelin’s career. Maxime Laoun, who skated in Saturday’s semi-final, joined them on the ice immediately after the race to soak in the moment and take part in the celebrations.
Canada was comfortable in second place for the first half of the race, before moving into the lead during the 28th lap. The Canadians (6:56.807) looked poised to repeat their Olympic result but were unable to fend off the hard-charging Dutch (6:56.786) and Koreans (6:56.709), who passed them with only four laps remaining to earn silver and gold, respectively.
Sunday’s relay final marked the end of the road for Hamelin, who will hang up his skates and move onto the next chapter of his life following an incredibly successful 20 year international career. The native of Sainte-Julie, Que., retires with six Olympic medals, 38 World Championship medals and 142 World Cup medals, along with an overall World Champion title from 2018.
Following the medal ceremonies, Hamelin was joined on the podium for a champagne celebration with teammates and members of the support staff, followed by a formal send-off by representatives from Speed Skating Canada and the Fédération de patinage de vitesse du Québec. The ‘Locomotive de Sainte-Julie’ tearfully addressed the crowd before taking a few final laps around the Maurice Richard Arena with his daughter Violette in his arms.
This weekend’s ISU World Short Track Championships in Montreal marked the end of the international season. Canada concluded the competition with a total of eight medals, including a silver in both the men’s and women’s overall classification.