René Cournoyer during the rings eventChristopher Morris/COC
Christopher Morris/COC

René Cournoyer

Biographie

René Cournoyer made his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 where he was Canada’s lone male artistic gymnast. Two years later, at the 2023 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, he was the leader of the Canadian squad that qualified a full men’s team for Paris 2024 – the first time Canada would have a full men’s artistic gymnastics team at the Olympic Games since 2008. They finished fourth in the qualification round and seventh in the team final at the worlds. Cournoyer also enjoyed an individual breakthrough as he finished 12th in the all-around final, a career best result.

Just one year before, Cournoyer had missed the 2022 Worlds after hyperextending his knee on a landing during training in the summer. He underwent surgery for a torn ACL, the first major injury of his career that required months of rehab. He returned to training in December 2022.   

Cournoyer had first represented Team Canada at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games where he just missed qualifying for the all-around final by one spot but did qualify for the individual apparatus finals on vault and horizontal bar. Just three weeks before the competition, he suffered a concussion and spent more than a week in a dark room without any brain stimulation to recover. 

In 2015, he was a member of the Canadian men’s team that just missed the podium at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. He made his world championship debut later that year. 

Cournoyer narrowly missed out on being Canada’s lone competitor in men’s artistic gymnastics at Rio 2016 but has used that as motivation. In 2018, he won the all-around title at the national championships and won medals in all six apparatus. Earlier in the year he competed at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, winning team silver and posting fourth-place finishes on rings, vault, and parallel bars. He also had a career highlight when he won vault gold at a World Challenge Cup in Turkey, surprising even himself. He won all-around silver at the 2018 Pan American Championships and went on to qualify for the all-around final at the 2018 World Championships but was forced to withdraw due to injury. He had pulled an abdominal muscle on his very first apparatus but pushed through the injury to finish the qualifying round. 

At the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Cournoyer helped Canada win the bronze medal in the team event. It was the first time since 1999 that Canada had won a men’s team medal at the Pan Am Games. He was the third-ranked qualifier for the all-around final, going on to finish fourth. He also qualified for the apparatus finals in the rings and horizontal bar. Cournoyer was Canada’s top man in the qualification round for the all-around at the 2019 World Championships. Despite not advancing to the final, his placement was enough to earn him a ticket to Tokyo 2020. 

In March 2020, he competed at the American Cup, one of the most prestigious World Cup competitions, and finished 10th in the all-around.

A Little More About René

Getting into the Sport: Started doing gymnastics at age 7 because he wanted to do acrobatics… He learned to channel his unbound energy into training to become a very serious athlete… Was competing at the national level by age 10 and internationally at age 15… Credits his coach Jean-Sébastien Tougas with not giving up on him in the early days, despite his lack of natural flexibility and talent… Outside Interests: Calls himself a “true book worm and a big geek in general”… Loves watching movies like The Avengers to relax or reading inspiring stories to motivate him to be a better person every day… Enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking… Studying physiotherapy at Université de Montreal and would like to work with athletes in the future… Odds and Ends: Role model is Kyle Shewfelt, who inspired him to want to compete for Team Canada and has become a mentor he can depend on for advice… Collects Christmas ornaments from different places where he competes…Favourite motto: “What is worth doing is worth doing well”…

Faits saillants olympiques

Jeux Sport Épreuve Rang
Tokyo 2020 Gymnastics - Artistic All-Around - Men 55 QR
Tokyo 2020 Gymnastics - Artistic Floor Exercise - Men 68 QR
Tokyo 2020 Gymnastics - Artistic Pommel Horse - Men 55 QR
Tokyo 2020 Gymnastics - Artistic Rings - Men 33 QR
Tokyo 2020 Gymnastics - Artistic Parallel Bars - Men 63 QR
Tokyo 2020 Gymnastics - Artistic Horizontal Bar 36 QR

Palmarès international

Olympic Games: 2020 - 55th QR (all-around), 68th QR (floor exercise), 55th QR (pommel horse), 33rd QR (rings), 63rd QR (parallel bars), 36th QR (horizontal bar)

Youth Olympic Games: 2014 – 19th (all-around), 29th (floor exercise), 36th (pommel horse), 18th (rings), 27th (parallel bars), 6th (vault), 7th (horizontal bar)

Pan American Games: 2023 - SILVER (team); 2019 – BRONZE (team), 4th (all-around), 5th (horizontal bar), 6th (rings); 2015 – 4th (team), 11th (all-around), 7th (pommel horse)

FIG World Championships: 2023 – 7th (team), 12th (all-around), 15th (horizontal bar), 30th (rings), 60th (parallel bars), 69th (floor exercise) 67th (pommel horse); 2021 – 27th (parallel bars), 37th (floor exercise), 80th (horizontal bar);2019 – 43rd QR (all-around), 17th (team), 77th (floor), 58th (rings), 53rd (parallel bars), 91st (horizontal bar), 106th (pommel horse); 2018 – 18th (team), 23rd (all around), 28th (horizontal bar), 56th (floor exercise), 59th (rings), 60th (parallel bars), 91st (pommel horse); 2017 – 69th (all around), 23rd (vault), 31st (parallel bars), 37th (rings), 93rd (floor exercise); 2015 – 15th (team), 45th (all around), 55th (pommel horse), 57th (floor exercise), 64th (horizontal bar), 76th (parallel bars), 81st (rings)

Commonwealth Games: 2018 – SILVER (team), 7th (all around), 4th (rings), 4th (vault), 4th parallel bars), 6th (high bar)

FISU Universiade: 2017 - 8th (team), 11th (all around), 13th (parallel bars), 16th (horizontal bar), 20th (rings), 27th (floor), 31st (vault), 44th (pommel horse)