Posted by Editoress on 08/14/16
Hugo Barrette is the only male rider on Canada's track cycling squad at Rio, and will race the Men's Keirin. Born on the remote Îles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St Lawrence, Hugo took up cycling in 2009 as a Junior after first playing hockey. He is the first male Olympic athlete from the Îles de la Madeleine (Marie-Huguette Cormier is the first athlete from the Island, in fencing at the 1984 and 1988 Games). In 2011 he participated in his first world championships and has risen through the ranks of track cycling steadily.
2011 Track World Championships - Men's Team Sprint (third rider)
2012 Track World Cup London - Team Sprint
2012 Track Worlds Melbourne - Lead rider Men's Team Sprint
By 2013, Hugo was beginning to garner international results, beginning with a silver medal at the Pan Am Championships in the Team Sprint, where the team set a new national record. In that 2013-14 World Cup season he finished fourth in the Keirin at the World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, the first Canadian man in 20 years to record a top-10 result. He finished the season ranked 14th in the world. He was also part of the Team Sprint squad that finished fourth at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and took a silver medal at the Pan Am Championships.
Track Worlds Colombia 2014, Keirin
2014 Commonwealth Games
2015 Track Worlds
2015 Pan Am Games
2015 proved to be a year of extreme highs and lows. At the Pan Am Games in Milton, Ontario, he won gold medals in the Sprint and Team Sprint, and bronze in the Keirin. However, in training before the start of the first World Cup of the 2015-16 season, in Cali, Colombia, Hugo suffered a horrific crash, when he went through the guardrail at the top of the track at high speed. He was knocked unconscious and sustained two broken lumbar vertebrae, a broken nose, facial lacerations, a neck dislocation and severe contusions throughout his body."
2016 Track World Cup Hong Kong
2016 Track Worlds
Remarkably, he was back training on the track in three weeks, as he fought to attain the world ranking he needed to attend the Olympics. He did that just 81 days after his crash, with a silver medal in the Keirin at the Hong Kong World Cup. Unfortunately, his lack of results in the previous two World Cups as he recovered from his crash made it impossible for Canada to qualify in the Team Sprint, and for Hugo to qualify in the Sprint.
"It's pretty cool to be the first male Olympian from Îles de la Madeleine. I'm super proud of coming from this Island. I had to leave the Island to pursue my goals and dreams, but everyone has always been at my back to support me since the beginning. That's the people of the Island; it's not about being the first or the second, it's just the pride of being from there."
"Definitely it has been quite a rollercoaster year. Starting from a high of getting two gold medals at the Pan Am Games in front of my family and the country was a really great moment. And then I was going to Cali for the first World Cup, hoping to win and thinking I was going to win with the legs I had ... and then I crashed pretty hard. It made the season pretty complicated and stressful. Before that I was pretty sure to qualify in both the Keirin and the Sprint. So I missed one World Cup and the second one was my first race back and I was only 13th in the Keirin and had no result in the Sprint. So I had to show up in Hong Kong in such good shape, and I knew I had to do well. Not only to qualify for the Olympics, but to make into the Worlds. So that's what I did."
"I always perform well under pressure and that was my chance. Everyone was looking and wanted to see what I had, and I went over there with the same mentality that I had at the Pan Am Games. Hong Kong was the race of the year for me. I finished second by a tire width ... it's something I'm really proud about. There's not too many moments in my career that I can say I'm really proud, but this is one of them. It took so much out of me, that three months of not even thinking about anything, not allowing myself to think about what had happened, just focussing on winning and that Olympic spot."
"I learned that I need to focus on one specific race every three or four months, and that race is going to be amazing. But it requires so much out of me that at Worlds, mentally I didn't have that do-or-die attitude. In any sprint event you need that. Match sprinting is like boxing - you need to know you are going to win, and it's the same in the Keirin. When you come to the line you have to be confident that you are the absolute best and you are going to win. Otherwise, even if you have the legs, you are not going to make it. At that's what happened at Worlds, I was just drained. I was still training, but that desire of winning at absolutely any cost wasn't there."
"So I took some rest after Worlds and now I'm back on, I've got that fire and I want to win, and I need to win. So I'm going to give it the best shot I've got for the Olympics. The Olympics are the biggest event, but I can relate to that pressure because we had Pan Am Games at home in Canada. So although the Olympics are way bigger and get more attention, I think it is going to be similar to what we faced at Pan Am Games. For the people who help me, and support me and follow me ... I want to do good and show them what I've got. It's for the people who took the time to help me and support me, and there's a lot of people. So that pressure I had at Pan Am Games, I think it is going to be similar."
"Some people get stressed at big events, I'm only stressed leading to the event. So that last four months I have been stressed and under pressure, I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself, on a daily basis. But when the Olympics come, I know I did everything in my power to be at my best, so from then on it's just exciting. So I am looking forward to racing, because I know I have the best in me. I can't control what my opponents are going to bring to the table, but I know I did the best I could, so no matter the result, I'll be proud of what I've accomplished. I think that's the reason why, when I show up to these big events, I feel the stressful excitement, but not a big weight on my shoulders like some others. It's my time to shine, and I've done everything I could, so I'll do it."
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