Senator Chantal Petitclerc is not only an internationally renowned athlete, but also a compassionate person. When she was 13 years old, she lost the use of her legs in an accident. 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.
Petitclerc overcame adversity and many obstacles to become a proven leader in the sports world. She took on the best in the world at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, Greece and brought home five Gold medals, three world records and a Paralympic Record for Canada. She successfully defended her title in the women's 800-metre wheelchair race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, earning her a collection of 16 medals.
Petitclerc capped an amazing Paralympic career at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, by winning a second consecutive sweep of all five races at the Games. Over the course of all five Paralympic Games she has won 14 gold, five silver and two bronze medals, making her the most successful wheelchair racer of all time. She was awarded the Lou Marsh trophy for Athlete of the Year for 2008, and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2009. Petitclerc has retired from Paralympic competition and will now concentrate on road racing and marathons.
Her many achievements and her personal journey have also made her an in-demand public speaker, recognized across Canada. She has been the spokesperson for Défi sportif AlterGo for 17 years, and is an ambassador for the international organization Right to Play. A tireless advocate for the contributions people with disabilities have made to our society, she plays a definitive role in building a more inclusive society. Her example inspires people to overcome their obstacles and achieve their full potential.
Through her experiences, Senator Petitclerc has also learned a lot about the particular characteristics of various communities, as well as how decisions are made at the national level. As someone who has functional limitations herself, she has a good understanding of the needs of various minority communities and would like to ensure their voices are heard.
The Senator is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the Order of Quebec. She received the Lou Marsh Trophy for Canadian Athlete of the Year and was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame. She has also received four honorary doctorates. In addition, Senator Petitclerc sits on various committees and boards of directors, where she provides her dynamic and unique perspective.
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