Jordan Pierre-Gilles (CAN) leads a quarter-final heat of the Men's 1000m during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages
As Jordan Pierre-Gilles says himself, “it’s been a hell of a ride so far”. Aged just 23 and in only his third season on the senior circuit, the Short Track Speed Skater is a multiple World Cup Relay winner, an Olympic Relay champion and a favorite for Relay gold in his upcoming home World Championships (starting in Montreal (CAN) on April 8th).
Team Canada celebrates winning the gold medal during the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages
But most importantly of all, as far as the Canadian is concerned, he is becoming an ever more prominent role model for kids of diverse ethnic backgrounds.
“It is something that is really needed in our sport,” Pierre-Gilles said. “In Canada there is more and more diversity but in winter sports it’s more difficult to find athletes that look like you when you come from elsewhere.
“You know when you are a kid you look around and when you see people that look like you, (you think) that’s what I can do. If I can help inspire people go into Short Track then I am all in.”
Pierre-Gilles already has first-hand experience of the effects of his exploits.
“I got to go to my elementary school to see the kids after the Olympics. They’d been following the Games and they did a lot of drawings and wrote me letters and stuff,” the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Men’s 5000m Relay gold medalist said. “I got there and they’d organized a huge event. All the classes were so excited. They sang me a song.
“That’s the best feeling ever. The medal is something nice but knowing you inspire people, you make them happy and make them dream, honestly, there is nothing that can match that feeling.”
It is a powerful statement from a man who always felt he “stood out” as a kid due to his appearance. Now he is ready to take it to the next level on home ice.
“I want to perform. I want to bring medals for my fans, my country and my family,” said the man from Sherbrooke, just 90 minutes outside Montreal. “Long-term, I want to be World Champion one day, that’s for sure. I am not afraid of saying it.”
It is confident chat from an athlete who is yet to win an individual World Cup medal. But personal bests in both the 500m and 1000m in Beijing suggest he is on the right track. He also reached two A finals in World Cup races earlier this season and grabbed a pair of Men’s 5000m Relay gold medals.
Jordan Pierre-Gilles (CAN) competes during the ISU World Cup Short Track 2021 in Debrecen (HUN) @International Skating Union (ISU)
Despite the obvious progress, it is in the Relay that Pierre-Gilles’ big chance will come. And he has the added motivation of having a certain Charles Hamelin as a teammate.
Charles Hamelin (CAN) raises the Canadian flag after becoming the overall champion during the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2018 in Montreal (CAN) @International Skating Union (ISU)
Four years ago Pierre-Gilles watched from his position as a rinkside volunteer while Hamelin took the 1000m and 1500m titles on his way to being crowned the overall World Champion.