A surprising and inspiring story of courage, perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit.
Just ten weeks before the 1992 Olympic Games, Silken Laumann, the reigning world champion in single sculls rowing, suffered a brutal accident that left her right leg shattered and useless. Doctors doubted that she would ever row competitively again. But twenty-seven days, five operations and countless hours of gruelling rehabilitation later, Silken was back in her racing shell, ready to pursue her dream. When the starter’s pistol rang out on August 2, she made the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history, rowing to a bronze-medal finish while the world watched, captivated by her remarkable story. Silken became one of Canada’s most beloved Olympians and has continued to inspire, encouraging people to dream, live in the moment and embrace life’s unexpected, difficult and amazing journey.
But there was a massive barrier in her path that she has never before spoken about, a hidden story much darker than the tale of her accident. Now, Silken bravely shines a spotlight on all the obstacles she has encountered—and overcome—in Unsinkable, a memoir that reveals not only new insights into her athletic success and triumph over physical adversity, but also the intense personal challenges of her past and the fierce determination she applies to living a bold, loving and successful life today.
Time after time, this courageous champion has proven to be unsinkable. Silken’s extraordinary story offers us an intimate look at the complicated woman behind the Olympic hero, showing how perseverance and optimism can allow anyone to embrace the incredible opportunities that often go hand in hand with adversity.
Laumann's story captivated Canadians and many others when she overcame a horrific injury and five operations on her right leg just weeks before a courageous bronze-medal performance in rowing, single sculls, at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. But her memoir goes far beyond that well-known chapter of her life with an examination of her upbringing in Mississauga, Ontario. In particular, she discusses her difficult mother: "it was surviving her wrath that made me hard enough to compete," she says. But readers also journey through her battles with anorexia and depression, her failed marriage and a second, current relationship, which includes an autistic child. At varying times brutally honest and inspirational, the book could have become mired in self-pity, but the story rises above. As she confesses her faults and sins, the book seems to have been cathartic, a way of coming clean and opening up as a means to better understand herself. If anything, the book lacks details on the Olympics and the rowing World Championships themselves, making it more of a spiritual journey than an athletic one. As Laumann puts it, "even after all this time, my story still feels like a miracle."