Chantal was born on December 15, 1969 in Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, Québec. At the age of 13, she lost the use of her legs following an accident. Convincing her to take up swimming in order to develop her strength and stamina, her high school physical education teacher, Gaston Jacques, would have a decisive impact on her life. For Chantal, that was her first contact with sport and training. Four years later, she would discover wheelchair athletics, paving the way for a long and very successful career which would take her to the Barcelona Games in 1992, and ultimately, to the Beijing Games in 2008.
Chantal Petitclerc returned from the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games with 5 gold medals, 2 new world records and 1 new Paralympic record, making her the most celebrated track athlete in history as well as the only Canadian athlete to have won gold medals at the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games.
Her career in numbers:
Chantal has received several recognitions for her sporting career, including being appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec (2005), being named Personality of the Year by La Presse newspaper (2004) and receiving the Laureus international award (2005). Other recognition:
While the Beijing Games would be the last time she would be participating in track competitions, Chantal Petitclerc nevertheless continues to train as she intends to take part in road marathons over the next few years.
Chantal Petitclerc is a highly sought after speaker, and shares her story with dozens of groups each year, both throughout Canada and abroad. She participates in projects by various Paralympic athletics and sports organizations, in addition to working as a spokesperson for Défi Sportif in Montréal and as an ambassador for the international Right to Play organization.
Chantal was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Chantal is among the remarkable athletes who serve as a profound reminder of the depth and breadth of our nation’s rich sporting landscape.
In English or in French, Chantal Petitclerc speaks about the stages of her life, the circumstances that brought her to become a wheelchair track & field athlete, her major victories, and her minor disappointments.
Petitclerc remembers the time of being in chaos and out of control after the accident she survived as a teenager that left her a paraplegic. Finding ways to deal with this loss of control shaped who she is today, and it applies at the depth of an accident like Chantal’s, or in our own day to day experiences in life; you can’t always control what happens to you but you can control how you deal with it.
The way we choose to face challenges in life is what connects us.
We all start at the bottom and work our way up. Even if means are limited and initial results are not strong, you can be successful and continue with your dream. Petitclerc followed her Olympic dream for years and years before becoming the best in the world and the most decorated athlete in her sport.
With humour and humility, Petitclerc shares her combination for success: Positive vision, focus, determined big dreams, a honed talent, and a lot of hard work and discipline. It may not get easier as you get closer – once your competitors are also at peak level with the same training, experience and desire, you need to determine your differentiator.
Petitclerc maintains at this stage, paying attention to the details on everything and pushing the limits is what makes for a champion. Be in control of all you can. And be ready for what you can’t control.
Remember too, when you do follow your dream, to do so with principles and integrity along the way. The journey and the people you meet are as important as the destination.