OTTAWA, October 14, 2015 – Wheelchair racing legend Chantal Petitclerc headlines a group of seven outstanding individuals named today as the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame’s inductees for 2015, who will be officially celebrated at a Gala on November 27 in Ottawa.
Montreal’s Petitclerc is entered in the athlete category along with Marni Abbott-Peter of Vancouver, B.C. and Lauren Woolstencroft of North Vancouver, B.C. Named in the coach category is the late Wilf Strom of Winnipeg, Man.; in the builder category are his wife Audrey Strom of Winnipeg, Man., Dr. Donald Royer of Sherbrooke, Que., and the late Gary McPherson of Edmonton, Alta.
“Whether athlete, coach, or builder, this group of inductees are all innovators and trailblazers for Paralympic sport,” said Gaétan Tardif, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. ”They contributed to building the very foundation of the Paralympic movement in Canada and around the world. We are in a better place today because of their amazing contributions.”
Initiated in 2000, the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to the growth and development of the Paralympic Movement in Canada. These individuals will be acknowledged within the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame Honoured Members section located in the Olympic and Paralympic Gallery at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary. The Canadian Paralympic Committee holds an induction process every two years, during a non-Paralympic Games year.
This year’s induction ceremony and celebration dinner is set for Friday, Nov. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa.
2015 Inductees Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame
Chantal Petitclerc (Montreal, Que., originally from Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, Que., coached by Peter Eriksson), para-athletics: Petitclerc is one of the most successful athletes ever in Paralympic sport. She competed at five Paralympic Games (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008) and won 21 medals, including 14 gold, in wheelchair racing. In 2008 she won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year and was named Canadian Press’ female athlete of the year. Petitclerc is a public speaker, broadcaster and athlete mentor, currently serving as Team Canada’s Chef de Mission for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Marni Abbott-Peter (Vancouver, B.C., coached by Tim Frick), wheelchair basketball: Abbott-Peter led Canada’s national women’s wheelchair basketball team to three gold medals and a bronze in her four Paralympic Games appearances (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004). She was the cornerstone on one of the most dominant teams in the history of Canadian amateur sport, which also won three consecutive world titles and produced a 43-game winning streak in world championship and Paralympic Games play. Since retiring as an athlete, Abbott-Peter has focused her attention on coaching and giving back to the wheelchair basketball community.
Lauren Woolstencroft (North Vancouver, B.C., originally from Calgary, Alta., coached by Jean-Sébastien Labrie) para-alpine skiing: A three-time Paralympian (2002, 2006, 2010), Woolstencroft won eight gold medals, one silver, and one bronze at the Paralympic Games over her career. At the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games, Woolstencroft became the first Canadian winter Paralympian to win five gold medals at a single Games and was named Canada’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony. Off the ski slopes, Woolstencroft works as an electrical engineer with BC Hydro.
Wilf Strom (Winnipeg, Man.) blind sports: As the Canadian Blind Sports national swim coach in the 1980s (including the Paralympic Games in 1980, 1984 and 1988), Strom coached an extremely successful group of swimmers, including Tim McIsaac, Mike Edgson and Carla Qualtrough. Among his many innovations, Strom developed the tapping system, a significant breakthrough in the sport. People called “tappers” stand at the end of the pool and use a pole to tap the swimmers when they approach the wall, indicating when the swimmer should turn or end the race.
Audrey Strom (Winnipeg, Man.) blind sports: As the first Chairperson of Swimming for the Canadian Blind Sports Association (CBSA), as well as the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) in the early 1980s, Strom worked to ensure that innovative rule changes for blind swimmers, such as tapping, were instilled in the ISBA and later the International Paralympic Committee swimming rules. Integration of blind swimmers was possible in Canada due to the rule modifications and coaching materials developed by Strom, whose work has helped shape where we are today in para-swimming.
Dr. Donald Royer (Sherbrooke, Que.) multi-sports: For over 40 years, Royer has been a tireless advocate of athletes with a disability as a coach, referee, researcher, team leader, judge, board member, administrator and federation delegate in the sports of wheelchair basketball, athletics and powerlifting. He served as a team manager or team leader at 13 Paralympic Games. Royer has also conducted many international clinics and training camps, introducing wheelchair sports to countries around the world.
Gary McPherson (Edmonton, Alta.) wheelchair sports: McPherson spent more than 20 years in wheelchair sports administration, including eight years as president of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association (CWSA), prior to which he acted as the association’s general manager. While general manager for the Alberta Northern Lights Wheelchair Basketball team, it became the first Canadian team to qualify for the final four of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.