Isabelle Weidemann is one of the most unlikely Olympic heroines you will ever meet and one of the most deserving at the same time.
She went into the Olympics with an outside chance to possibly win two medals. She came home with a matching set – one gold, one silver and one bronze – becoming only the second speedskater in Canadian history to win at least three medals at an Olympic games, the other being Cindy Klassen who won five medals at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Weidemann ended her Olympic experience by carrying the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies.
That’s a far cry from her Olympic experience in PyeongChang in 2018 where she placed seventh and sixth respectively in the 3,000 and 5,000 metres and a disappointing fourth in the Team Pursuit competing as a 21-year-old.
It was even a further cry still from her days competing with the Gloucester Concordes as a “gangly” 12-year-old when she would often get lapped in races by the other competitors.
What she lacked in skill and athleticism in those early days she made up for in hard work and an inner drive to compete and get better – and get better she did.
With her above-average stature, Weidemann is 6-foot-2, she was much more suited to long track speedskating than short track, which many Concorde members specialize in.
By focusing on the one discipline, Weidemann began experiencing a moderate amount of success and by the age of 16, she was winning races with an increasing amount of regularity.
She won the all-around title at both the 2013 Canadian Junior Championships and repeated the feat in 2014. That same year, she placed 4th and 9th respectively in the 3,000 and 1,500 metres at the World Junior Championships.
Weidemann graduated to the senior ranks in 2015 and immediately made an impression by placing 4th in the 3,000 metres at the Canadian Single Distance Championships. A year later, she won both the 3,000 and 5,000 metres as a 21-year-old, establishing herself as the best long distance speed skater in the country.
Finding success on the international stage would take a little longer.
She won her first World Cup race in November 2018, competing in the 3,000 metres in Tomakomai, Japan and would go on to win two more silver medals that same World Cup season.
Unfortunately, she did not find the same success at the 2019 World Single Distance Championships where she placed 4th and 7th respectively in the 5,000 and 3,000.
At the 2020 Single Distance Championships, Weidemann placed 6th and 10th respectively at those distances.
Last year, competing in a pandemic bubble, she placed 4th in the 5,000 and 5th in the 3,000, setting herself up for a run at a possible individual medal in Beijing.
Winning three medals was beyond her wildest dreams.
“It’s never been something that I even thought I’d be able to do,” Weidemann said in a recent interview. “These Games have been so, so incredible. I really look forward to being able to go home and reflect on everything that’s happened.”
At just 25 years of age, Weidemann should be in her prime when the next Olympics take place in Cortina, Italy in 2026 where she will be looking to add to already impressive Olympic resume.
In the meantime, the Colonel By Secondary School grad plans to pursue a medical degree.