Speed Skating Hall of Fame

Clara Hughes

Born: September 27, 1972 - Winnipeg, Manitoba (CAN)

Clara Hughes is a Canadian speed skater and cyclist. She’s the only athlete who has won multiple medals at both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics. She was born in 1972. Hughes only started skating at the age of sixteen. She was watching the 88 Olympics when speed skating came on and was instantly sold on the sport. She moved to Saskatchewan and started training as a speed skater. It didn’t take long for her efforts to be rewarded. In 1989 she won a silver medal in the 800 meters mass start at the National Championships.

In 1990 Hughes got scouted by a cycling coach. The Canadian started training as a cyclist and found she had a talent for this sport as well. After not even a year of training Hughes won three gold medals on the track at Nationals. She got a contract as a professional cyclist and started travelling over the world for races. One of these races took place on a temporary track in the Viking Ship in Hamar, Norway. Hughes promised herself that one day she would come back to compete in the oval as a speed skater. At the 96 Olympics Hughes won bronze medals in both the road race and the time trial.

The next couple of years were difficult for Hughes. She had several injuries and had some mental problems as well. Eventually the cyclist admitted that she was depressed. She decided it was best to take a break from cycling. A year later Hughes started to enjoy cycling again. She returned to the sport and started training for the upcoming Olympic Games. Unfortunately she fell ill right before the 2000 Olympics. Due to her illness Hughes struggled to get motivated for her races in Sydney. Everything changed when she received the news that one of her teammates, Nicole Reinhart, had passed away after crashing in a race. Hughes decided to race with everything she had at the Olympics to honor her friend. The accident made her realize that life is short and that she shouldn’t postpone her dream of becoming a speed skater.

Hughes returned to the ice in 2001. She made the national team after just two months of training. In the same year she travelled to Norway and skated a world cup in the Viking Ship, fulfilling the promise she had made herself years ago. The Canadian still raced as a cyclist in the summer and put the blades back on in September. Hughes qualified for the 2002 Winter Olympics. She became ninth on the 3000 meters and won the bronze medal on the 5000 meters. Later that year the speed skater won her first world cup race. In 2004 Hughes became World Champion on the 5k. By this time, she quit cycling and focused solely on speed skating.

At the beginning on the 2005-2006 season Hughes showed she was in great shape by winning several podium places. The Olympics were approaching, but Hughes became sick just weeks beforehand just as in 2000. When she won silver at the team pursuit her spirits were lifted. Hughes believed in herself again and proved this by winning the gold medal at the 5000 meters. The speed skater decided to continue training as a speed skater, since the next Olympics would be in her home country. Four years later Hughes got to be the flag bearer in Vancouver. Her race on the 5k resulted in a bronze medal. Contented with her performance, Hughes decided to end her speed skating career in 2010. She picked up her life as a cyclist with the hope of representing her country at another Summer Olympics.

Rianne Mense, December 1, 2013


Career summary


Podia at championships

yearpositionchampionshipplace
20023 Olympic Winter Games 5000 metersSalt Lake CityUSA
20032 World Championship Single Distances 5000 metersBerlinGER
20041 World Championship Single Distances 5000 metersSeoulKOR
20053 World Championship Single Distances 5000 metersInzellGER
2 World Championship Single Distances Team pursuitInzellGER
20061 Olympic Winter Games 5000 metersTurinITA
2 Olympic Winter Games Team pursuitTurinITA
20082 World Championship Single Distances 5000 metersNaganoJPN
20092 World Championship Single Distances 5000 metersRichmondCAN
20103 Olympic Winter Games 5000 metersVancouverCAN

World Records

#disciplinerecorddateplace
1Team pursuit3:08.79Feb 16, 2003Baselga di PinèITA
2Team pursuit3:05.49Nov 12, 2004HamarNOR
3Team pursuit3:03.07Nov 20, 2004BerlinGER

Personal Bests

distancetimedateplace
500m0:41.19Oct 12, 2006CalgaryCAN
1000m1:18.74Dec 23, 2006CalgaryCAN
1500m1:57.46Nov 20, 2005Salt Lake CityUSA
3000m3:59.06Nov 18, 2005Salt Lake CityUSA
5000m6:53.04Jan 13, 2008CalgaryCAN
10,000m14:19.73Mar 11, 2005CalgaryCAN