A true picture of female heroism in the sport of rowing is when Canadian sculler Silken Laumann crossed the finish line at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics to take a bronze medal. Ten weeks earlier she had had her right calf muscles shredded when a men’s pair had crashed into her single scull during warm-up at a World Cup regatta in Essen, Germany. With enormous courage and willpower, she fought her way back, despite pain and her doctors’ advice not to go back to elite competitive rowing so soon. Before she could even walk, she was out sculling to make it to the 1992 Olympic single sculls final.
Now, Laumann has published an autobiography that is an equally brave achievement. In her Unsinkable she writes about the verbal and physical abuse inflicted upon her by her troubled mother, or as she writes on her blog: ‘mom who loved us, but didn’t have the tools to parent us’; while her father turned a blind eye to the problems. In Canadian interviews, Laumann reveals that she still to this day has ‘feelings of unworthiness’ due to her mother’s abuse.
It must have been incredibly hard for Silken Laumann to write about her childhood since both her parents are still alive. It takes real courage to accomplish such a thing. She also writes honestly about the anorexia she suffered from in her teens, and her partner’s and her difficulties having two children with special needs. She is a brave woman, Silken Laumann.
Unsinkable is written together with Canadian author Sylvia Fraser. Read more about it here.