I fell in love with kayaking Florence Hamel

“I fell in love with kayaking” – Florence Hamel

Kayaker Liza Racine, a 2000 Sydney Olympian, got to relive the frenzy of the Games when her daughter turned heads and established herself as one of Canada’s brightest hopes.

Florence Hamel, just 16, has just returned from the Junior (U-18) World Championships in Szeged, Hungary, where her mother was also there for a job at Kayak Canada.

Although she has only been kayaking full-time for two years, Hamel has been rowing since she was a child. She was introduced to kayaking at the family’s cottage on the shores of Lac Sergent in Portneuf.

“I slept in my mother’s old room in the chalet where I could see all her major event accreditations and her medals from the Canadian Championships and Pan Ams. Now it’s my turn to compete on the international stage. »

“I fell in love with kayaking from my early days at Lac Sergent,” continues the junior high school student at Collège Sainte-Anne in Lachine. When I joined the Lachine club, I fell in love even more. We have a good training group and that motivates me even more. »

Target Olympics

Hamel does not hide his goals.

“I’ve always dreamed of competing in the Olympics,” says the man who has competed in the regatta of Olympic hopefuls for the past two years. It’s a long-term goal. In 2024 in Paris I will only be 19 years old and a strong vintage is imminent. It’s more realistic to think of the Los Angeles games in 2028.”

Is the daughter the same age ahead of the mother?

“It’s not comparable,” said Racine, who missed the Athens 2004 games with a herniated disc. I rowed crookedly at his age and had no idea. Florence is way ahead of me. I never made it to the Canada Games or the World Juniors and it took me a long time to earn my spot on the Canada team. »

Racine is pleased with her daughter’s progress, but she is even happier with her state of mind.

“I love to see them happy,” says the man who played a reserve role in Sydney. She works hard, she is passionate and wants to excel. This desire to excel in sports also brings a taste for excelling in school. »


When she’s not interfering with her daughter’s training, Racine makes sure Florence is having fun.

“I’ve suffered from stage fright a lot throughout my career and I want to make sure I share that experience as much as possible. Mental health management is very important. I make sure she has fun and kayaks for her
good reasons. »

Racine Florence trained for a week in preparation for the World Juniors, but she left all the time to the Canadian team coaches at the time of the competition.

“I erased myself, Racine image. We have created a healthy break. It’s important that she develops a relationship with her coaches. In addition to caring for her sanity, my job is to make sure she eats well and avoids injury. She’s in good hands with the Lachine Club. »

Valuable Advice

Is it difficult to lead an athlete whose parents have developed at the highest level?

“It depends on which parent it is,” stresses Lachine Club head coach Dominic Gomez. In Liza’s case, she trusts me and it’s easy. She has more experience than me and I can learn from her. My father [Franck] who runs the Quebec team can help me if I need help. »

Florence does not hesitate to consult her mother.

“The day before the competitions I can get very excited and it’s fun that my mother can share her experiences with me, she confides. she can understand me I’m very independent, but having my mother around after a bad race is reassuring. I can open up completely. »

Florence Hamel impresses her coach

At just 16, the kayaker qualified for the World Juniors

Florence Hamel and her partner Alina Tverie at the World Junior Championship in K-2 500m.

Photo courtesy of Liza Racine

Florence Hamel and her partner Alina Tverie at the World Junior Championship in K-2 500m.

The young athlete broke barriers by qualifying for the World Junior Championships at the age of 16.

Her potential was obvious, but she rose through the ranks faster than expected.

“I could see her potential in training when she beat the boys, but it’s impressive and rare for a 16-year-old girl to qualify for the World Championships, which are reserved for athletes under 18,” says her coach at Lachine Club . Dominic Gomez. The few times a 16-year-old girl qualified, she did it with the skin of her ass. »

“Florence’s selection was obvious,” Gomez continued. She easily won her place. I could see that she was a good racer but she impressed me in the race. She still has two years of junior entitlement. »

The Montreal kayaker earned her ticket to Hungary by winning the K-2 500m event with Alina Tverie at the National Trials and placing second in the K-1. In Szeged, Hamel won the K-2 500m B final and placed third in the K-4 500m B final.

“His seventh place finish in the K-1 at the Olympic Hopes Regatta is very good,” said Gomez. The next step is for her to re-qualify for Worlds, which hasn’t happened yet, although the odds are very good. Next year we will be looking at performances and a podium in his final year as a junior. »

Hamel tasted his experience.

“It was really a great experience in Hungary, meeting older girls,” she says. I want to continue racing internationally. With the U-23 World Championships taking place at the same time, I was excited to see and speak to some of the girls who I consider role models who competed at the Senior World Championships in Halifax earlier in the summer. »


Liza Racine wants to make sure her daughter doesn’t skip a step.

“Right now it’s all about her gaining strength and not putting up the miles on the water,” she explains. Camps in Florida are a good thing, but it’s important not to burn them. She is primarily a student. »

Racine is inspired by the philosophy of Louis Bouchard, who guided founder Alex Harvey throughout his career.

“Louis puts people first and I love his vision. There is no point in developing scoring machines. When an athlete is performing particularly well at this age, balance must be maintained. »

father’s help

Gomez agrees.

“I don’t see the point of doing long camps in Florida at that age,” he says. It is necessary to go there for a shorter period of time to give the taste of going back there. You must not lose the fun of rowing. »

At the Lachine Club, Hamel can count on the advice of Dominic Gomez, but also on the presence of his father, Franck Gomez, who is the head coach of the Quebec team.

“Team Gomez is the best of both worlds,” she concludes. I’m really, really lucky. »

The son can benefit from the father’s experience.

“At the same age, Florence records the same achievements as Émilie Fournel, who has competed in three Olympic Games [2008, 2012 et 2016]. My father trained Émilie and we can draw comparisons. »

A profitable multisport experience

Just two years ago, field hockey was Florence Hamel’s favorite sport.

The 16-year-old kayaker was introduced to field hockey when her family moved to the Toronto suburb of Oakville in 2011 when she was just five years old. Florence didn’t want to play soccer, and Liza wanted her daughter to play a team sport.

What was the young girl’s joy when her family moved to England in 2019 for work reasons!

“It’s big field hockey in England,” says Florence. It is one of the main sports for girls. I really like winning or losing as a team. In kayaking, I also find this facet in the team boats in K-2 and K-4. »


Due to the pandemic, the family returned to Montreal in June 2020. Much more than the move, the young girl had to give up field hockey, which is not practiced in the metropolis. She then joined the Lachine Kayak Club, a sport to which she now devotes all her energy and effort.

“Even if there was field hockey in Montreal, I probably would have kayaked,” she says. I grew up with many sports [soccer, natation, ski de fond, kayak et hockey sur gazon]. I have developed a great openness and my sporting skills. »

For Liza Racine, who grew up kayaking and teaches physical education at a high school, it was important for her two children to explore multisport.

“Both of our children have followed exactly what young people should be doing by playing different sports,” she explains. Until the age of 14 or 15 it is important to try several sports. It is a basis for life, no matter what you do later. Specialization translates achievements into your main sport. »

Hamel’s coach Dominic Gomez sees several advantages in his protégé’s sporting career.

“The will to work hard, to give a lot and the intensity are aspects that come from field hockey,” he explains. It often takes longer for girls who have only kayaked before to develop this will to win. His cardiovascular system is also very developed. »

“I encourage my athletes to play multiple sports,” adds Dominic, whose father Franck is the Quebec team’s head coach. It’s easy to teach her the technique because she’s in control of her body. »