Laumann loses custody battle

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Silken Laumann became a Canadian household name by overcoming adversity on the Olympic stage.

Now the former rowing star is fighting the odds again, this time in her personal life, after the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed her request last month to move her two children from Victoria to London where her fiance -- GoodLife Fitness founder and chief executive David Patchell-Evans -- lives.

Justice Paul Pearlman, in a ruling posted online this week, concluded the move would not be in the best interests of the children (ages 12 and nine) at this time.

Laumann, a three-time Olympic medallist, shares joint custody with the children's father, John Wallace, who rowed to gold with the Canadian men's eight at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

The couple married in 1993, then separated in 2002. They divorced in 2005, but both continued to maintain homes in Victoria, where they were able to spend time with their children.

Pearlman believed the disruption of the parents' relationship, together with the uprooting of their "strong social connections to their friends and community," outweighed the potential advantages of the move to London.

"I am saddened by the judge's decision," Laumann said yesterday. "I remain committed to my children and moving forward with my life. As this is a very personal matter, I will not be making any further statements at this time."

Laumann met Patchell-Evans two years ago. They were engaged recently and had planned to wed next summer.

But both Laumann and the judge noted the decision could ultimately affect that relationship. Laumann told the court she would not leave her children and planned to continue to travel between Victoria and London if she lost the case.

"I don't agree with the decision," Patchell-Evans said yesterday from Ottawa. "I don't feel it was fair to Silken ... but we are trying to handle this in the best way that we can. We hope people will respect our privacy and the privacy of our families."

Patchell-Evans, who has two children of his own from a previous marriage, had been amiable to sign a pre-nuptial agreement to pay for Laumann's children to attend a private school.

He has offered her a three-year contract with his company at an annual salary of $100,000 as a spokesperson for the GoodLife Children's Foundation.

He had, at one point, been willing to offer Wallace a job in London and the couple proposed to fly in the children's father for visits.

But Wallace said he isn't interested in moving to London and a job in Victoria would prevent him from making the monthly trips.

In 1992, Laumann made one of the greatest comebacks in Olympic history by overcoming the pain of a shattered leg just 10 weeks prior to the Barcelona Olympics, then winning Canada's most famous bronze medal.

She also won a bronze in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and a silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.


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