Senator, paralympic multimedalist and long-time spokesperson for Défi sportif AlterGo, Chantal Petitclerc recently spoke of the importance several people had in her life.
‘There are two kinds of challenges in life: the kind you choose and the kind you don’t. In my case, the biggest challenge I did not choose was the accident that rendered me paraplegic. This was a challenge that I handled well, thanks to the help of people around me’, she said.
Last fall, Ms. Petitclerc spoke to volunteers of the Réseau BIBLIO CQLM (Centre-du-Québec-Lanaudière-Mauricie), in Trois-Rivières. She told, among other things, of how she quickly came to realize she would have to adapt after her accident, which happened 35 years ago, in her hometown of Saint-Marc-des-Carrières.
‘At 13, I was the first person in a wheelchair I had ever encountered’, said, with a laugh, the former wheelchair racing athlete.
‘What I took from this is that when it seems that you are losing control over everything, maybe you might still have some over your emotions, your attitude and the way you handle adversity’, said the most medaled Canadian female in the Paralympic Games’ history.
According to Ms. Petitclerc, her family and people surrounding her allowed her to realize very quickly that her life in a wheelchair was heading for a new direction.
The senator notably mentioned her former physical education professor, Gaston Jacques, who took her swimming three times a week throughout high school. Once in Cegep, the young Chantal was in «great shape», autonomous, confident, ‘at peace with being in a wheelchair’ and ready for a new challenge: wheelchair athletics.
‘This symbolizes the impact and the difference one can make’ said the 21-times Paralympic medalist.
The spokesperson for Défi sportif AlterGo since 1988 also mentioned the roles other key figures had in her path. For example, she cited the support she received from her former coach Pierre Pomerleau, the inspiration she found from great Quebec Paralympian André Viger and even the motivation she found in wanting to surpass former teammate ‘Michel’ at every practice.
‘There were some extraordinary people in my journey’, she told her audience.
Pictured above: Senator and 21-times Paralympic medalist Chantal Petitclerc, during the 35th Défi sportif AlterGo, in April of 2018. (Credit: Farah Halloum)
Pictured below: A gold medal won by Chantal Peitclerc during the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (Credit: handout)