Concept

Chantal Petitclerc

Summary
Chantal Petitclerc (born December 15, 1969) is a Canadian wheelchair racer and a Senator from Quebec. At the age of 13, Petitclerc lost the use of both legs in an accident when at a friend's farm, a heavy barn door fell on her, fracturing her spine at the L1-T12 vertebra. Gaston Jacques, a high school physical education teacher, was to have a decisive influence on her life when he taught her to swim for four lunch hours a week throughout high school as she was unable to participate in the gym course. In a 2011 interview, she stated that, "[swimming] really helped me get more fit and stronger, and helped me live a more independent life in a wheelchair." Swimming also allowed her to discover her competitive drive. While she had previously been first in her class academically, it was her introduction to the world of competitive racing. 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 last, well behind the other competitors. However, she had fallen in love with wheelchair racing and a long and fruitful career had begun. While Petitclerc 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 in Edmonton, where she registered in order to be able to train with Peter Eriksson, who remains her coach to this day. Petitclerc competed in the Paralympic Games for the first time in Barcelona in 1992, returning with two bronze medals, the start of collection that now includes twenty one Paralympic medals, fourteen of them gold. Four years later, at the Atlanta games, she took gold medals in the 100 and 200 m events and three silvers in the 400, 800, and 1500 m races. At the 2000 Summer Paralympics, she won two golds, in the 200 m and 800 m, and two silvers, in the 100 m and 400 m races.
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