As spokesperson for the Défi sportif AlterGo for the past 19 years, Chantal Petitclerc needs no further introduction. Multiple Paralympic medallist and now senator, Petitclerc has lent her name to a para-athletics Classic event. The first edition was held on April 28th at the Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard.

Despite the rain, Quebec’s top athletes met on the track to compete in the 100 m, 200 m, 400 m and 800 m races.

“It’s an honour and a privilege. I was very touched the first time it was mentioned to me,” said Petitclerc, who was on hand for the inaugural event. “I’m very passionate about this sport and I’d like to see it grow and develop. It’s also the 35th anniversary of the Défi sportif AlterGo, an event that I participated in many times and for which I’ve been the spokesperson for the past 20 years. It’s part of my life, and for me to become even more involved is great.”

Ten years after she retired from competition, Petitclerc’s name is still as well-known as ever in the para-athletics community. For some she is a role model, for others an inspiration. “To accomplish everything I did, I too was inspired by many people, including André Viger. To have a Classic named after me ten years after my retirement is a bit surreal.”

Not only is the Classic held as part of the Défi sportif AlterGo, but it is part of the paranational circuit and the points accumulated by the competitors count towards the international rankings.

“It really matters to them. This event also fits into Athletics Canada’s development plan. It’s important that numerous competitions of this type be held throughout the year to develop the next generations of athletes,” explained Petitclerc.

Passing the Torch

As the 19-year spokesperson for the Défi sportif AlterGo, the multiple Paralympic medallist serves as a role model for many Canadian athletes in para-athletics. One of them is Sarah White, an athletic ambassador for the 35th edition of the Défi, who competed on Saturday morning.

“It’s great to see young women like Sarah. When she began her career, mine was just ending. To watch her develop and find her place in Canadian sport, as well as at the international level, is just fantastic,” exclaimed Petitclerc, who hopes see an even larger number of young people become successful in para-athletics.

“Ideally, there would be tons! One of the biggest challenges of Paralympic sport is to create depth in the pool of athletes. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re getting there!”

The first edition of the Chantal Petitclerc Classic brought together experienced Paralympic medallist Diane Roy and numerous up-and-coming Quebec athletes who will soon make their names on the international stage. Proof that Chantal Petitclerc’s name appeals to both the established elite and the new generation and resonates throughout the province!