MONTREAL, September 8, 2015-With one year to go until the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Chantal Petitclerc, Chef de Mission for the Canadian Paralympic team, is taking the opportunity to announce a national tour to promote Paralympic sport across the country.
“With great excitement I followed the Parapan Am Games in Toronto. They were marked by the most prolific medal haul at the Games, which augurs well for Rio. The “one year” mark is symbolic and important for the preparation of athletes, who will be going through their Paralympic qualification process in the upcoming months. Since my appointment exactly one year ago, I’ve been in observation mode, but now I’m ready to take action,” said five-time Paralympian and Chef de Mission, Chantal Petitclerc. Petitclerc has competed in wheelchair racing in five Paralympic Games (Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing), winning 21 medals, including 14 gold. “My role as Chef de Mission will contribute to raising awareness of Paralympic sport, changing perceptions and, above all, revealing the athletes behind the results and medals. The tour will take me across Canada to highlight the athletes who are training for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.”
Petitclerc heads to Rio mid-September for an official visit as Chef de Mission. She will visit and evaluate the venues and meet Chef de Missions from around the world.
A tour across the country to promote Paralympic sport
When she was appointed, Petitclerc made it one of her priorities to oversee the pregame preparation as well as building and leading a support team that will ensure athletes have an optimal environment in which to succeed. She hopes to raise the profile of Canadian athletes across the country, in addition to promoting Paralympic sport and the Canadian Paralympic team.
The cross-country tour will begin this winter and run until the spring. Petitclerc wants to visit ten Canadian cities including Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax and Calgary. At each stop, she will visit schools, play wheelchair basketball, meet with athletes and coaches in the region, give speeches, and meet with municipal elected officials.
“Community involvement is crucial to the success of Paralympic athletes. Special facilities and major investments are required for parasport, so this is a unique opportunity to see what is being done in the community and thank those who support athletes and the Paralympic movement. My mission is to rally as many people as possible around the Paralympic movement by telling the athletes’ stories.”
After Petitclerc retired from competition, she worked as a coach and mentor with the British athletics team at the London Paralympic Games in 2012. An accomplished bilingual speaker, she served as Chef de Mission for Team Canada at the Commonwealth Games, a world first for a Paralympic athlete.
The Chef de Mission is the official spokesperson for the Canadian Paralympic team; she is a mentor, a leader and an inspiration for athletes. Her role in supporting the Paralympic team is a volunteer initiative that requires a great deal of commitment and determination.
A look back of the Toronto Parapan Am Games
Canada was represented by 216 athletes and guides, and won 168 medals, almost three times as many as at the 2011 Guadalajara Parapan Am Games. The intention behind Toronto was to finish among the top three nations; Canada achieved this, finishing second in the medal count. The athletes had the opportunity to demonstrate what they are made of and shine on home soil. There were also the coaches, who were able to evaluate the work to be done in the next year to prepare the athletes for Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Since the athletes’ qualification process has not begun yet, it is too early for the CPC to set its objectives for Rio.
The 2016 Paralympic Games will take place in Rio from September 7 to 18, with 4,350 athletes from more than 160 countries competing. Team Canada plans to send a team of 170 to 200 athletes. The selection will be finalized in the summer of 2016.
About Chantal Petitclerc
A native of Saint-Marc-des-Carriers, Quebec, Chantal Petitclerc lost the use of her legs in an accident at age 13. Her high school phys ed teacher convinced her to take up swimming to develop her strength and stamina. Four years later, Petitclerc discovered wheelchair racing, setting the course for a long, successful career. Her numerous awards and honours include Knight of the Ordre du Québec, Companion of the Order of Canada as well as the Lou Marsh Trophy, presented to the Canadian athlete of the year.