The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Chantal Petitclerc

Wheelchair Athlete

2008


Photo of Chantal Petitclerc winning a race at the 2008 Paralympics

Photo of Chantal Petitclerc winning a race at the 2008 Paralympics

Date
September 16, 2008
Collection
The Canadian Press/Eugene Hoshiko

Now That’s A Retirement Party!

When Chantal Petitclerc decided in 2008 that her fifth Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, would be her last, the globe-trotting wheelchair racer’s war chest was already filled with 16 medals. Of those, nine were gold and five were the result of an astonishing clean-sweep in the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 metre events at the 2004 Games in Athens. At 38 years old, the durable competitor really had little left to prove.

As a 12 year old, Chantal had already revealed the heart of a champion when she bravely forged ahead after an accident left her paralyzed. Within months she embraced swimming and at 18 was introduced to wheelchair racing which brought to the surface a deep competitive spirit. Hooked on the rush of adrenaline associated with competing, Chantal soon transformed into a winning machine.

By 2008 the Paralympic movement had taken great strides, but then, so had Chantal. Never-the-less, in Beijing National Stadium she would face the strongest and deepest field ever. Her decision to boldly defend in all five events confirmed her herculean DNA. Quite notably, the Chinese entered a mighty contingent and were looking to be spoilers in their centerpiece event – the 100 metre – which just happened to be Chantal’s first race.

Chantal turned it into her signature performance with a gutsy come-from-behind display battling past two Chinese girls at 98 metres to win by 5/100ths of a second. Then, in a scheduling anomaly an exhausted Petitclerc not only defended her 200 metre and 800 metre gold medals, she claimed them in world record time, with the events only 78 minutes apart. She secured the 400 metre and punctuated a second consecutive clean-sweep with a decisive victory in the 1500 metre for her fifth gold medal. Chantal Peititclerc sure knows how to throw a retirement party. With the “Bird’s Nest’ as her backdrop she ended a remarkable Paralympic career with a tenth consecutive gold medal.

Chantal did take home one extra special gift from Beijing. After her first victory in the 100 metre, she returned to the Athlete’s Village quite late to find the entire Chinese Track Team formally organized in a line waiting especially for her. They united in hearty applause signalling their deep respect for a remarkable athlete. It displayed sportsmanship at its absolute finest and provided Chantal Petitclerc a moment she will simply never forget.

LOU MARSH TROPHY WINNER Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1992
Summer Paralympic Games – Bronze medal in 200m, 800m
1996
Atlanta Summer Paralympic Games – Silver medal in 400m, 800m, 1500m
1996
Atlanta Summer Paralympic Games – Gold medal in 100m and 200m
2000
Sydney Summer Paralympic Games – Silver medal in 100m and 400m, Gold medal in 200m and 800m
2004
Athens Summer Paralympic Games – Gold medal in 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m
2008
Beijing Summer Paralympic Games – Gold medal in 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m
2008
Bobbie Rosenfeld Trophy - Female Athlete of the Year
2008
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
2009
Named to the Order of Canada