Would you pay $1 million for an Olympic medal? This former speedskater hopes you will
Anouk Leblanc-Boucher, who now goes by Anouk English, skates around the ice with the Canadian flag as she celebrates her bronze medal win in the ladies 500-metre relay final in short track speed skating at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. (CP / Paul Chiasson)
Daniel Bitonti, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, February 24, 2014 7:03PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 24, 2014 8:07PM EST
A former Canadian Olympian is hoping to sell a silver medal she won at the 2006 Winter Games for at least $1 million -- money she says would then be used to stage an Olympic comeback.
Anouk Leblanc-Boucher, who now goes by Anouk English, won the silver medal in the 3,000-metre short track speedskating relay at the Turin Games, along with a bronze in the 500-metre event.
The double-medallist recently posted an online ad on the classified site Kijiji asking for $7,000 for the skates she wore at the Games.
The ad also says she’s willing to sell her silver medal too, but doesn’t feature a price.
English told CTVNews.ca on Monday that she would sell the medal for no less than $1 million.
“The medal itself is just a symbol of what I did,” she said. “The race itself is still going to be there even if I don’t have the medal…No one can take away that performance.”
English left the Turin Games as one of Canada’s top short track speedskaters. But a string of injuries to her ankles forced her to the sidelines. She then started a family and has three kids, now aged six, five and three.
The 29-year-old says she’s eager to get back into competitive shape and hopes to land a spot on the Canadian Olympic team for the 2018 Games in South Korea.
She says watching the Sochi Games inspired her to want to make a full comeback.
“I was thinking ‘Oh, I wish I could go that fast,’” English said. “Just to be there, it looked so fun and exciting.”
English says the performance of Canadian skater Marie-Eve Drolet in Sochi most greatly inspired her. Drolet, 32, made it back to the Games after a 12-year Olympic hiatus, capturing a silver as part of the women’s 3,000-metre relay team.
“Her having that comeback -- I mean she’s on the national team and she’s 30-something,” English said. “If I really put everything out there, there is a chance… And I need to get something flowing here if I want to get back to training. And the first step is the funding.”
English says she would soon have to start training five days a week at a regional speedskating facility in Fredericton, N.B., over an hour from her home just outside of Saint John.
Eventually, she says, she would have to move out of the province and continue training full time with the country’s top skaters.
“It would be hard to part with the medal, but if I could be a millionaire and actually go to full-time training -- and not have to worry about having to work and getting the kids to a babysitter and just making it -- it would be worth it.” English said. She suggests that getting rid of the silver medal might actually “open my doors to a way more healthy, happier and thrilling life.”
English says she’s received some queries about her ad, but has yet to receive an offer.
“They usually say ‘Are you nuts?’ ” English says, laughing.
She says she is not planning to sell her bronze medal.
The first order of business, however, is getting someone to purchase the skates she wore in Turin. She says any money she gets will immediately go toward buying a new, up-to-date pair. Boots alone can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000, with an additional $500 for new blades, English says.
And while she’s not counting on someone actually paying the big bucks for her medal, English says she thinks that the offer could generate buzz and show potential sponsors just how serious she is about getting back into the sport.
She says if she eventually starts to show good results in competition, she also has the chance to receive funding from the Canadian government, and could qualify for additional funding from the Quebec government because she’s a native of the province.
“Even if all this does is get me a sponsor, or other people trusting that I can actually do this, then it’s all worth it,” English said.