Lesley Thompson
Medal record
Women's rowing
Representing  Canada
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona Eight
Silver medal – second place 1984 Los Angeles Coxed four
Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta Eight
Silver medal – second place 2012 London Eight
Bronze medal – third place 2000 Sydney Eight
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1991 Vienna Eight
Silver medal – second place 2010 Lake Karapiro Eight
Silver medal – second place 2011 Lake Bled Eight
Bronze medal – third place 1984 Montreal Eight
Bronze medal – third place 1985 Hazewinkel Coxed four
Bronze medal – third place 1986 Nottingham Coxed four
Bronze medal – third place 1998 Cologne Eight
Bronze medal – third place 1999 St. Catharines Eight
Bronze medal – third place 2015 Aiguebelette Eight
Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 1986 Edinburgh Coxed four

Lesley Allison Thompson-Willie (born September 20, 1959) is a Canadian rowing coxswain and Olympic champion. Between 1984 and 2016, she has competed at eight Olympic Games, a record for a rower, winning medals in five of them including gold in coxed eight at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.[1][2]


At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles Thompson competed in the Women's Coxed Four event; the Canadian team won a silver medal behind gold winner Romania. At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul the Canadian team qualified for the B final in coxed four, and placed 7th.[2] At the 1991 World Championships in Austria she won a gold medal in coxed eight with the Canadian team. Next year, at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona she competed in coxed eight, winning a gold medal for Canada. In 1996 in Atlanta she won a silver medal in coxed eight.[2] At the 1998 World Championships in France she placed second in coxed eight.[3] At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney she won a bronze medal in coxed eight. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, she coxed the Canadian eight boat that finished in fourth.[2] When the Canadian eights won silver at the 2012 London Olympics[4] she became the first Canadian to win medals at five different Olympic Games.[5]

A former track athlete, she also competed in gymnastics until 1983. She lives in London and St. Catharines and is affiliated with the London RC Club.[3] She was elected to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1994.

She initially retired after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, missing the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.[5] Her appearance at the 2008 Olympics, when her team lost out on a medal by 0.79 seconds, began back in 2005 when she made a joke to rowing coach Al Morrow[6] about going to Beijing. When he replied, "Really?", she began training.[7]

Aged 56, Thompson-Willie coxed the women's eight for Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Her crew would go on to finish 5th.[8] As of 2019 she continues to train with the national team, and has been named as coxswain of the Canadian men's eight for the World Rowing Cup.[9]

She is one of only nine athletes who have competed at eight Olympic Games with her record standing alone among rowers.

Outside rowing

Thompson-Willie is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario.[5] She was a teacher-librarian and physical education teacher at South Secondary School in London, Ontario but retired in 2018. She married to Dr. Paul Willie in 2000,[10] but still competed as Lesley Thompson at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.[11] Her husband is a professor of accounting, finance, and hotel management at Niagara College.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "Lesley Thompson". databaseOlympics.com. Archived from the original on March 2, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d "Lesley Thompson". Sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on August 20, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Lesley Thompson at World Rowing
  4. ^ "Canada's women's 8 rowers win Olympic silver". CBC Sports. The Canadian Press. August 2, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Canadian Olympic Committee (July 5, 2012). "Lesley Thompson-Willie". Canada.com. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  6. ^ "Honoured members – Al Morrow". Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 6, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Cox one of the big buoys of rowing". Canada.com. August 8, 2008. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  8. ^ Ewing, Lori (June 28, 2016). "Canada announces 26-member Olympic rowing team". Canadian Press. Toronto, Canada. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  9. ^ "Canadian Crews named for 2019 World Rowing Cup and Gavirate International Para Rowing Regatta". Rowing Canada Aviron. May 6, 2019. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  10. ^ Kennedy, Patrick (August 8, 2008). "Our Olympians: Lesley Thompson-Willie". Kingston Whig-Standard. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  11. ^ "Rowing: Official Report of the XXVIIth Olympiad" (PDF). Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. p. 10/11. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  12. ^ Dave Feschuk (July 15, 2012). "Lesley Thompson-Willie guides women's eight rowers: Seventh Olympics for veteran Canadian coxswain". Brampton Guardian. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2012.

Lesley Thompson at World Rowing