The Hamelin Brothers: Staying on Track

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By Braydon Holmyard

Charles and Francois Hamelin spend a lot of time together.

For more than a decade, the speed skating brothers from Levis, Que. have spent countless hours training, travelling the world for competitions and have even graced the top of an Olympic podium, always side by side.

“Every season, every day, I spend it with Charles pretty much,” the younger brother Francois said. “We’ve been lucky enough to have a great relationship through all our seasons.”

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The Hamelin name has been the driving force behind Canada’s short track speed skating team since 33-year-old Charles debuted at the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin.

Since then, the elder brother has become one of Canada’s most decorated Olympic athletes, with three gold and one silver medal. He also owns a heap of world championship medals, totalling 32 podium finishes over 13 competitions.

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Francois, who will turn 31 in December, got a taste of Olympic gold with his brother during the 5,000-metre relay in front of the Vancouver crowd in 2010.

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Off the ice, the brothers remain inseparable. They’ve been neighbours for nearly ten years — something that has been particularly helpful for new father Francois, who has a trustworthy babysitter living next door.

But while the two can look effortlessly in sync as they whip around the track, the way they are wired is quite different.

“I’m a guy who doesn’t worry about a lot of things,” Charles said in his stoic tone. That composure is one of the qualities his brother admires.

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“I’m a little bit more of an anxious person,” Francois said, amused by his admission. “It was kind of a goal for me as an athlete to reach that level of calmness.”

Those differing personalities compliment each other and even provide an advantage on the ice.

“We just bring out the best in each other,” Charles said. “When someone is a little bit down, the other one will bring him back up.”

Charles and Francois will lean on one another again at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, They’ll also rely on their family, who they hope will be able to come along for the ride.

“This is something that we want to live together. We are trying to find a way for our younger brother to come on the trip because he’s been with us for Vancouver and Sochi,” Francois said.

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But this time around, the third Hamelin’s presence feels even more urgent.

“Those will be our last Olympic Games.”