As London 2012 set the stage for Michael Phelps to become the all-time medal winner in Summer Games history, and Kim Rhode became the first American to win a medal in five consecutive summer games, Canada made their own mark in Summer Games history. While Emilie Heymans did not medal in all three events that she was eligible in, the bronze medal she earned with Jennifer Abel in the women’s three-metre synchronized springboard event. The accomplishment enabled her to make Canadian sporting history. Heymans became the first Canadian to earn medals in four consecutive Summer Games.
Her mother is Marie-Paule Van Eyck, an athlete that represented Belgium at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal. The native of Greenfield Park, Quebec, Heymans began her athletic career as a gymnast. At the age of 11, she turned to diving and earned her first medal at the Sydney Summer Games in 2000. With partner Anne Montminy, the two won a silver medal in the 10m synchronized diving event. Athens 2004 resulted in Heymans winning the bronze medal with Blythe Hartley in the same event as 2000.
Those performances were followed up by the biggest challenge in her career. At the 2008 Canadian Summer Games trials, Heymans was partnered with Marie-Eve Marleau in the platform synchro event. The two failed to qualify and Heymans competed on the solo platform. She would win the silver in the 10 meter individual event. Of note, she had the lead until the eventual gold medal champion won with final dive of the event.
The most remarkable element of her accomplishments is that she has won medals with three different partners. At the age of 30, the possibility of competing at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro is very much a reality. With Dara Torres having made multiple comebacks in her career (including a silver medal past the age of 40), Heymans has the physical attributes to be able to compete again. Although her long term goal is to enter the fashion trade, Heymans legacy is unprecedented.
While the Summer Games have provided many performances worthy of the Lou Marsh Award (such as Christine Sinclair’s hat trick against Hope Solo in an emotional 4-3 loss to the United States in soccer), there is no question that Heymans performance has cemented her legacy as one of Canada’s greatest athletes. Spots in the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and the Canada Sports Hall of Fame are waiting for her.