Olympic Stories

Tony Estanguet - Canoeing

Tony Estanguet - Canoeing

Born on May 6, 1978 in Pau, France, Tony Estanguet is a French canoeist who has been competing—and winning—since the 90s. His style, competitive drive and grace under pressure have all made him the toast of the town in the realm of canoeing. And while Tony doesn’t compete in a sport that receives worldwide acclaim, he is among the best to ever paddle a canoe in competition, which makes him one of the world’s finest athletes.

At 33 years of age, it is highly likely that 2012’s Summer Olympic Games in London will be the last time that Estanguet competes at this level. He will be 34 when the Olympics take place, and 38 by the time he has another opportunity. But should it end in London, Tony has more than enough precious metal hanging in his trophy case, having won 2 gold medals at the Olympics and a slew of other medals in other competitions.

Sporting Career

Even in France canoeing isn’t really amongst the top sports, so you won’t find a lot of younger kids veering that way in terms of an athletic choice. Tony Estanguet was different, however. His father and brother were both successful canoeists, and following in their footsteps was something Tony knew he wanted to do. He took to canoeing like a fish in water; and bad puns aside, it was clear from the start that Tony had the potential to be better than this World Championship-winning father and his Olympic medal-winning brother.

Tony wouldn’t stand out right away and dominate the field. His first attempt on the world stage came via the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Although Estanguet would race very well, he was barely beaten by Michal Martikan. However, after the referees reviewed the race, they found that Michal had committed a penalty, which ultimately cost him 2 seconds and took Tony from second-place silver to a first-place gold medal. Tony would repeat these results again in 2004, winning Olympic Gold for a second time.

Estanguet had a string of silver-medal-winning performances at the World Championships prior to the Olympics, but after two gold medals while facing the ultimate competition, Tony had emerged as the best canoeist in the world. He would live up to this reputation in the events to come. After 2004’s Athens Games, Tony would win the World Championships in 2005, 06, and 07.

In 2008, chasing his third Olympic Gold medal in Beijing, Tony had the honor as acting as a flag bearer. He was favored to win a medal in the competition, but a string of bad luck saw Estanguet miss the final cut of 8, barely missing out with a 9th-place finish.

Throughout his career, Tony has accumulated 12 World Championships medals and 2 Olympic medals, and he’s hoping for number 3 at he gets ready for 2012’s Summer Games.

Career Highlights

  • 1997 World Championships – Silver
  • 2000 Olympic Games – Gold
  • 2003 World Championships – Silver
  • 2004 Olympic Games – Gold
  • 2005 World Championships – Gold
  • 2006 World Championships – Gold
  • 2007 World Championships – Gold
  • 2009 World Championships – Gold
  • 2010 World Championships – Gold
  • 2011 European Championships – Gold
  • 2012 Oceania Open Championships – Gold
  • 2012 Summer Olympics – Gold

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