In an era where speed skating was not a popular sport in Canada, Gaétan Boucher’s first calling on the ice was hockey but, after winning his first Canadian Championship at the age of 14, he realized that speed skating was his future and participated in his first Winter Olympics in 1976, at the age of 17. At his next attempt, in 1980, he took home the silver medal in the 1,000m event, one of only two Canadian medals at those Games. In 1983 he suffered from illness and a broken ankle and it was believed that his career was coming to a close but, at the 1984 Winter Olympics, where he was the Canadian flag-bearer at the opening ceremony, he came back and won gold medals in the 1,000 and 1,500m events and bronze in the 500m. His became the first Canadian male to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics, as well as claiming the most medals won by a Canadian athlete at a single Olympics (he was later surpassed by Cindy Klassen in this regard) and accolades for his feat quickly followed. He appeared in one more Winter Olympic, in 1988, where the lingering effects of his ankle injury prevented him from reaching the podium, and retired after the game.
Champion at the 1984 World Sprint Championships and winner of six World Championship events from 1981 through 1985, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1983 and promoted to Officer the following year. In 1984 he won the Oscar Mathisen Award, given annually for exemplary speed skating performance, and the Lou Marsh Trophy, given annually to Canada’s top athlete and was inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. The following year was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec. Since his retirement, he has worked as a French-language broadcaster and designed skates for Bauer. He was ranked number 10 on Canada’s Athletes of the 20th Century and continues to inspire speed skaters in Canada to this day.
Personal Bests: 500 – 37.22 (1985); 1000 – 1:12.74 (1985); 1500 – 1:53.60 (1988); 5000 – 7:23.61 (1982); 10000 – 15:56.4 (1982).