Home Canada News Kathleen Heddle, Canadian Olympic rowing champion, dead of cancer at age 55

Kathleen Heddle, Canadian Olympic rowing champion, dead of cancer at age 55

Three-time Olympic rowing champion Kathleen Heddle has died of cancer at age 55.

Canada’s Heddle and rowing partner Marnie McBean won Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996 in the coxless pair and double sculls respectively. Heddle also earned gold with the women’s eight in 1992.

“I am crushed and without words today at this loss,” McBean wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “Too soon.”

Heddle battled breast and lymph-node cancer followed by melanoma and brain cancer for six years.

She died Monday at home in Vancouver, according to a Rowing Canada statement issued Wednesday on behalf of her family.

“While our grief is as heavy as the darkest moment of night, the gifts given to us by Kathleen shine bright as the moon and stars,” her family said in the statement.

“With time, memories of our happiest days with Kathleen will be sure to overcome our tears.”

The statement included a November 2020 quote from Heddle: “How is it that amongst some of the worst days ever, you can also experience some of the best?”

Quiet resolve

Heddle was born in Trail, B.C., but her family moved to Vancouver when she was an infant. She became a rower while attending the University of British Columbia.

Heddle and McBean are the only Canadian athletes to win three gold medals in the Summer Olympic Games. They also claimed gold in the pair at the 1991 and 1995 world championships.

Her quiet resolve was the foil to McBean’s more dominant personality.

WATCH | A look back at Heddle and McBean’s golden partnership:

Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle’s diverging personalities converge. 2:43

“Kathleen had an incredible sense of touch, seemingly aware of the natural rhythm and flow in things,” her family wrote in their tribute to her.

“Kathleen loved the serenity of being on the water and in nature, always a proponent of wearing a hat and sunscreen, even on a cloudy day.”

Heddle and McBean were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. Heddle is survived by her husband, Mike, and children, Lyndsey and Mac.



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Kathleen Heddle, Canadian Olympic rowing champion, dead of cancer at age 55
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