Paralympic World Record Holder
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Chantal was born on December 15, 1969 in Saint-Marc-des-Carrières in Quebec. At the age of thirteen, she lost the use of both legs in an accident. Gaston Jacques, a high school physical education teacher, was to have a decisive influence on her life when he convinced her to try swimming to develop her physical strength and stamina. It was Chantal’s first contact with sports and training.
When she was eighteen, Pierre Pomerleau, a trainer at Université Laval in Quebec City, introduced her to wheelchair sports. Using a homemade wheelchair, she took part in her first race and came in…dead last, well behind the other competitors. But never mind that, she had just fallen in love with wheelchair racing, and a long and fruitful career had begun!
Chantal competed in the Paralympic Games for the first time in Barcelona in 1992, returning with two bronze medals, the start of an impressive collection of eleven Paralympic medals and two world records.
While Chantal was developing her skills as a wheelchair athlete, she pursued her studies, first in social sciences at the CEGEP de Sainte-Foy and then in history at the University of Alberta, where she registered in order to be able to train with Peter Eriksson, who remains her coach to this day.
And what of the future? When she returned from Athens in 2004, Chantal told reporters that she wants to continue her career but doesn’t know whether she will participate in the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic games in Beijing. We’ll just have to wait to find out!
Every year, hundreds — even thousands — of people have the opportunity to attend one of Chantal Petitclerc’s talks.
In English or in French, Chantal speaks about the stages of her life, the circumstances that brought her to become a wheelchair track and field athlete, her major victories, and her minor disappointments.
Without preaching, she uses her own story to illustrate the importance of perseverance, ambitious goals, vision, and, especially, dreams.