Sylvie Fréchette debuted at the World Championships in 1986, winning a gold medal with the Canadian team in the group event. Following in the footsteps of her compatriot Carolyn Waldo, she won the solo world title in Perth in 1991, branding her as the favourite for the Olympic gold in Barcelona. But a week before the Barcelona Games, Fréchette found her fiancé and manager Sylvain Lake dead in their apartment, having committed suicide. She decided to leave for Spain in spite of this, where things got even worse. In the figures routine, she was awarded only an 8.7 (instead of an 9.7) by Brazilian judge Ana Maria da Silveira. The judge had pressed the wrong button, and immediately tried to correct this, but she was too late. This difference turned out to cost Fréchette the gold medal, which instead went to Kristen Babb-Sprague of the US.
Because of the efforts of Canadian IOC-member Dick Pound, the result was eventually changed and Fréchette was awarded her gold medal in a special ceremony in Montréal, while Babb-Sprague was allowed to keep her medal as well. Fréchette, who had by that time become a television host, returned to synchronized swimming in 1994, and made the Canadian team for Atlanta. Returning home with a silver medal, she retired again. She was later chosen by Cirque du Soleil as the designer for the synchronized swimming parts of their shows, in which she initially also performed.
Athlete Olympic Results Content