The 3rd Annual Zoomer List: Canada’s Top 45 Over 45: Lesley Thompson-Willie

Lesley Thompson-Willie, 53

Coxswain Canada’s women’s eight rowing team trusts her completely. She steers their 64-foot boat, corrects their stroke and sets them up to win the 2,000-metre races. At the 2012 Olympics in London, when her voice – calm, intense, fierce – asks them to pour it on, they dig deep, crossing the finish line with nothing left as they win a silver medal.  (After a fourth-place finish in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Andréanne Morin and Darcy Marquandt were done with rowing, but she tantalized with team news until they signed on again.) Long a legend in the rowing world, Thompson-Willie is the first Canadian to win medals in five different Olympic Games. The London, Ont., high school teacher-librarian works as hard in the gym as her rowers, telling the Toronto Star“I really don’t think I can sit there in the boat when they’re starting to feel like they can’t go any harder, and tell them to go harder when I haven’t done it myself.”