Kathleen Heddle, Canadian Olympic rowing champ, dies at 55

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Kathleen Heddle, a three-time Olympic rowing champion for Canada, has died. She was 55.

She died Monday at home in Vancouver, Rowing Canada said Wednesday in a statement on behalf of her family. Heddle had breast and lymph-node cancer followed by melanoma and brain cancer for six years.

Heddle and Marnie McBean won Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996 in the coxless pair and double sculls. Heddle also earned gold in the women’s eight in 1992. Heddle and McBean carried Canada’s flag at the closing ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“I am crushed and without words today at this loss,” McBean wrote in a social media post. “Too soon.”

Heddle and McBean are the only Canadian athletes to win three gold medals in the Summer Olympics. They also claimed gold in the coxless pair at the 1991 and 1995 world championships.

Heddle and McBean were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

Tricia Smith, the Canadian Olympic Committee president and a former Olympic rower, was Heddle’s friend.

“Kathleen was the greatest of Olympians in every sense of the word and a rock for all who knew her,” Smith said in a statement. “A proud Canadian of such depth of character, she approached everything she did with integrity and grace.”

Heddle is survived by her husband, Mike, and children Lyndsey and Mac.

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