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, for a total of 21 Paralympic medals, including 4 gold, making her the most celebrated female track athlete in history, the most medaled Canadian Paralympic athlete, as well as the only Canadian athlete to have won gold medals at the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games.
Her career in numbers:
- Five Paralympic Games (Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing)
- 21 Paralympic medals (including 14 gold medals)
- 2 world records (200m, 400m)
- 3 Paralympic records (200m, 400m, and 1500m)
- 1 Olympic gold medal in the 800m (demonstration sport)
- 24 world records broken in her career
Chantal has received several recognitions for her sporting career, including being appointed Companion of the Order of Canada being named Personality of the Year by La Presse newspaper (2004) and receiving the Laureus international award (2005). Other recognition:
- Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec (2005)
- Companion of the Order of Canada
- Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian athlete of the year
- Star on Canada's Walk of Fame
- International Paralympic Committee Female athlete of the year
- La Presse Sports personality of the year
- Honorary Doctorate, University of Ottawa, University of Montréal, and University of Edmonton
- 2010 United States Sports Academy’s (USSA) Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC Disabled Athlete Award.
- Listed 7 times as one of the Most Influencial Women in Sport ( CAAWS)
While the Beijing Games would be the last time she would be participating in track competitions, Chantal Petitclerc is commited to giving back to sport. In 2012, she was recruited as coach and mentor of the UK track and field team at the London Paralympic Games. After her return to Canada, Chantal was named Chef de Mission for the Glascow 2014 Commonwealth Games. For the first time in history, a paralympic athlete will lead a team of combined olympic and paralympic athletes.
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.
- Determination, Perseverance, Discipline: Enhancing your Natural Advantage
- Together on the Podium: Recognizing that Personal Success is the Outcome of Team Effort