Michelle Russell


Michelle Russell made her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 where she competed in both women’s individual kayak events (K-1 200m and K-1 500m) as well as the women’s K-4 500m. 

Russell first drew a lot of attention to herself at the 2013 ICF U23 World Championships. On home waters in Welland, Ontario, she won gold in the women’s K-1 200m and bronze in the women’s K-1 500m. She was Canada’s only double medallist of the competition. 

A decade later, she posted some of her best results as a senior competitor. Russell placed sixth in the women’s K-1 500m at the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, which qualified Canada in that event for Paris 2024. She followed up by winning K-1 500m gold at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. 

Russell had first competed at the Pan Am Games at Toronto 2015. She was a triple medallist there, contributing to Canada’s first medal of the Games, gold in the women’s K-4 500m, and adding silvers in the women’s K-1 200m and K-1 500m events.

Russell began competing on the ICF World Cup circuit in 2012, the same year she finished third in the K-1 500m at the Canadian trials which helped decide the Olympic team for London. That result gave her confidence and focus, opening her eyes to where she could go in the sport. In 2013 she qualified for four World Cup A finals in K-1 events (two K-1 200m and two K-1 500m) and debuted at the senior ICF World Championships in the K-1 200m. Russell has competed at every world championships since then. 

A Little More About Michelle Getting into the Sport: 

Started kayaking at age 7 when her mom signed up the whole family at Abenaki Aquatic Club in Cole Harbour to get outdoor exercise… Switched to Cheema Aquatic Club in 2004… Outside Interests: Graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University in 2020 with a Honours degree in English… Enjoys reading… Odds and Ends: Her grandmother has been her role model… Best advice came from 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Steve Giles who said his best races were when he put his head down and put confidence into his paddling rather than giving himself a place before the race had started…

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
Tokyo 2020Canoe/Kayak - SprintK-1 200m - Women13
Tokyo 2020Canoe/Kayak - SprintK-1 500m - Women25
Tokyo 2020Canoe/Kayak - SprintK-4 500m - Women11

Notable International Results

Olympic Games: 2020 - 13th (K-1 200m), 25th (K-1 500m), 11th (K-4 500m)

Pan American Games: 2023 – GOLD (K-1 500m); 2015 – SILVER (K-1 200m), SILVER (K-1 500m), GOLD (K-4 500m)

ICF World Championships: 2023 – 6th (K-1 500m); 2022 – 8th (K-1 200m), 14th (K-1 500m); 2021 – 15th (K-1 500m); 2019 -  16th (K-1 200m), 12th (K-4 500m); 2018 – 12th (K-1 500m), 9th (K-4 500m), 13th (K-1 5000m); 2017 – 11th (K-1 500m), 13th (K-2 500m), 12th (K-1 5000m); 2015 – 18th (K-1 200m); 14th (K-1 500m); 2014 – 13th (K-1 200m), 12th (K-2 500m); 2013 – 14th (K-1 200m)

ICF U23 World Championships: 2013 – GOLD (K-1 200m), BRONZE (K-1 500m)

ICF Junior World Championships: 2011 – 8th  (K-1 500m), 8th  (K-4 500m), 10th  (K-1 1000m)

COPAC Pan American Championships: 2018 - GOLD (K-1 500m), GOLD (K-4 500m)

COPAC Pan American Championships (junior): 2010 - GOLD (K-1 200m), GOLD (K-1 500m), BRONZE (K-2 200m); 2008 - GOLD (K-4 1000m), GOLD (K-4 500m)