Category: Podium Text Stories

Chantal Petitclerc: Canadian Idol

b-pelosse-16sept-ath077Chantal ran everywhere as a kid growing up in Quebec. But at the age of 13, Chantal’s legs became paralyzed in a farm accident. But she never stopped running. She just did it differently than other kids.“I started swimming right after my accident to get healthy and fit again, but then discovered wheelchair racing,” she remembers.

In her first race all that she had was a homemade wheelchair. She came in dead last. Never mind that, that’s the day she fell in love with wheelchair racing. Chantal is a real-life Canadian Idol to many boys and girls. She’s a Golden Girl too. She won an amazing five gold medals in Beijing to go with her many, many other Paralympic medals from four other Paralympic Games. She’s a role model, a motivational speaker, a TV and radio host in Montreal, and get this… she’s been Maclean’s magazine’s Canadian of the Year and Chatelaine magazine’s Woman of the Year!

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Lauren Barwick: Back in the Saddle

Del227073Imagine this. A gold medal-winning rider saying she was never going to ride a horse ever again. That’s exactly what Lauren Barwick said after a 45 kg hay bale fell on her and broke her back. She wasn’t a Paralympic equestrian when she got hurt – she was an amazing stunt rider for movies – but she is now. Lauren traveled from her home in British Columbia to the Paralympics in China to win gold and silver medals on her horse Maile (named after a Hawaiian flower). “Maile has so much heart. She’s the best partner I could ever ask for!”

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Victoria Nolan: Facing her Fears

nolanVictoria Nolan began losing her sight when she was 18 years old. After her two children were born, her eyesight got much worse. Now she has only three percent vision. She wanted to be a good role model for her kids, so she decided to take up a sport.

Victoria explained that she lost so much sight that she was afraid to go out and do things. “I wouldn’t leave the house unless someone went with me. I turned to sports to help me conquer this fear and force me to do things on my own. Adaptive rowing was something I knew I’d be able to do well.”

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It’s Classified

bp_sept8_at_331_0We have some classified information for you… well actually, it’s really not so secret. Paralympic athletes are categorized into six different disability groups to keep the competition fair. They are cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, blind or visually impaired, intellectual disability, amputee and les autres. It’s called classification.

You would never see a wheelchair athlete racing for gold against an amputee sprinting down the track on a prosthetic leg. In fact, classification gets even more complicated. On the track for ex­ample, leg amputees only compete against leg amputees and arm amputees against arm amputees. And there are different “sport classes” of events for athletes with a spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy to ensure that competitors are racing or cycling or swimming against others with the same level of disability.

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