Marlène Harnois

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Marlène Harnois
Medal record
Representing  France
Women’s taekwondo
Olympic Games
Bronze medal – third place 2012 London 57 kg
World Championships
Bronze medal – third place 2011 Gyeongju Featherweight
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2008 Rome Lightweight
Gold medal – first place 2012 Manchester Lightweight
Bronze medal – third place 2010 Saint Petersburg Welterweight
Gold medal – first place 2011 Shenzhen Featherweight
Bronze medal – third place 2009 Belgrade Lightweight

Marlene Olivia Harnois (born 22 October 1986 in Montreal) is a Canadian-born French taekwondo Olympic medalist, TV personality and philanthropist.

In addition she has been European champion, World University champion, a World Taekwondo Championships medalist and is a Knight of the Order of Merit, decorated by the President of France.[1]

She is a Champion for Peace, for the Peace and Sport Organisation (under the High Patronage of HH Prince Albert II of Monaco).

Harnois was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[2] She became a Canadian Junior National champion at the age of 11. Two years later, she won bronze at the World Junior Taekwondo Championships. Invited by the French Taekwondo Federation, she moved to France in 2001 to train for a period of one year, returning to Canada afterwards where she gave up the sport for almost four years. She returned to France in 2006 to resume her taekwondo career, becoming a French citizen in April 2008 and winning the European Championships a few days later.[3][4]

She won a gold medal at both the European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and a bronze medal at the European Championships in 2010.[5]

She won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Taekwondo Championships in women's featherweight.

In 2011, she won the Universiade Games in Shenzen by beating the then world champion, Yuzhuo Hou, on home soil in the final match. During that season, she also won the US Open, Russia Open and Israel Open. 

At her first Olympics (the 2012 Summer Olympics) in London, she won a bronze medal in the −57 kg category by beating Japan's Mayu Hamada in finals.[6]


Marlene discovered Taekwondo at the age of four, with her older sister Stephanie. Both enrolled in a neighbourhood club located on the south shore of Montreal. She earnt her black belt at the age of nine and quickly stood out at provincial and national levels. During her youth, she also won competitions in other sports including a Quebec Championship in fencing (foil), in handball (with the high school team of Pierre-Brosseau, where she was enrolled in sports studies program), as well as several snowboard competitions.[citation needed]

Canadian Team[edit]

In 1997, in her first participation, she won the Canadian Junior National Taekwondo Championships. After three years of consecutive years of winning the National Championship, she made her debut on the international scene and won the 1999 US Open. At age 13, Marlene was selected to represent Canada at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Killarney, Ireland and won the bronze medal. The Canadian martial art prodigy immediately gained international attention within her sport.[citation needed]

Journey in France (2001 - 2002)[edit]

As part of the International Francophone Solidarity program, the French Taekwondo Federation (FFTDA) offered Marlene the opportunity to join the French training center for the sport season 2001-2002. Believing in her dream, the then 14 year old athlete decided to leave her Canadian club, Black Belt World in Toronto, to move to Europe in order to reach her goals. In France, Marlene trained at the Aix-en-Provence training center (CREPS) with Pascal Gentil (twice Olympic medalist) and Mamedy Doucara (welterweight World Champion 2001). She won the Francophone World Cup in the -67 kg division and received the title of « MVP, Best Fighter ».[citation needed]

Athletic career on hold (2002 - 2005)[edit]

One year into the International Solidarity Francophone program, established by the FFTDA, Marlene returned to Canada, where she continued to practice occasionally in her club and won the Korea Open in 2003. Demotivated by the lack of training structure, funding and partners, Marlene took a break from her sports career for several years.

Back to France in 2006[edit]

Still dreaming about the Olympics, Marlene accepted a proposition made by the French Taekwondo Federation and moved back to France to train at the National Olympic Center. She joined the group led by Myriam Baverel at the Aix-en-Provence training center (CREPS) and won all the International Open Championships; Mexico World Open, Dutch Open, Israel Open, Spanish Open, Andorra Cup, Bilbao Open. At the same time, she pursued her scholarship and earned a certificate in physical education and a license degree (bac+4) in management. In 2008, just days after receiving her French naturalization, Marlene won the European Championships in the -63 kg category.

Olympic Preparation (2008 - 2012)[edit]

In 2008, Marlene joined the elite group at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP) in Paris to prepare for the London Olympics. During the 2010 season, she decides to cut weight to fight in a lighter category, the 49 – 57 kg division, to optimize her Olympic chances. On top of her game, she dominated the international scene and won the US Open, Russia Open, Israel Open, Paris International Tournament, Deutsch Open and won gold at the European Championships in Manchester, Universiades Games and medalled at the World Taekwondo Championships. She also won an Olympic quota for France at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Kazan, Russia.

2012 Summer Olympics[edit]

She won a bronze medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games. She beat Yeny Contreras in the first round, followed by Hedaya Wahba in the quarter-finals.[7] Harnois then lost to Hou Yuzhuo in the semi-finals.[7] This enabled her to take part in the bronze medal repechage, where she beat Mayu Hamada.[7]


On 1 March 2013, she received the distinction of Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite, awarded by the President of France, Mr François Hollande at the Élysée Palace.[8]

Charity Work, Endorsement and Other Media[edit]

In parallel to her sport career, she obtained a BA in Journalism and Communications (CFJ-INSEP), starred in an advertising campaign for Allianz, worked for various medias and Conix Services. She is also involved which various foundations and is an ambassador for "Un Maillot Pour la Vie". In 2012, she joins RTL radio station' show "On refait le Sport avec Sylvain Charley" and is live on air every Thursday night. She also is a consultant for Eurosport in the TV program « Campus ».  

In 2013, she became a model for Blune. 

In 2014, she created the Fondation Heart Angel in order to promote Education, Culture and Sport in West Africa and support the youth in the realisation of their dreams. At the RIO 2016 Olympic Games, Cheick Cissé and Ruth Gbagbi, two athletes supported by the Foundation won historical medals. The gold medalist in taekwondo - 80 kilos, Cheick Cissé became the first Olympic Champion in the history of Ivory Coast and Ruth Gbagbi, bronze medalist in taekwondo -67 kilos became the first female Olympic medalist.[9]

In 2016, Marlene Harnois became a Champion for Peace representing the Peace and Sport organisation (Under the High Patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco). She is actively promoting peace thru sport and doing fields actions all over the world. [10]



[11] 2011





  • Gold World Open Mexico
  • Gold Spanish Open
  • Gold Jerusalem Open


  • Gold Copa d’Andorra
  • Gold Jerusalem Open
  • Gold Bilbao Open


  • Bronze Junior Taekwondo Championships, Killarney - Ireland (2000)
  • Gold Korea Open (2003)
  • Gold Francophone World Cup (2002)
  • Gold US Open (1999)
  • Gold Canadian National Championships (1997 to 2002)