Chantal Petitclerc

Senator for Grandville, Quebec
Assumed office
March 18, 2016
Nominated byJustin Trudeau
Appointed byDavid Johnston
Preceded byAndrée Champagne (2014)
Personal details
Born (1969-12-15) December 15, 1969 (age 51)
Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, Quebec
Political partyIndependent Senators Group
Spouse(s)James Duhamel
ChildrenElliot Duhamel
Sports career
Country Canada
Sportwheelchair racer

Chantal Petitclerc, CC CQ MSM (born December 15, 1969 in Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, Quebec) is a Canadian wheelchair racer and a Senator from Quebec.

Early life

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.[1][2] 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.[3] 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.[1] While she had previously been first in her class academically, it was her introduction to the world of competitive racing.[3]


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. She won three gold medals (in 100 m, 200 m, and 400 m) and a bronze (800 m) at the 2002 World Championships and a gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in the 800 m. At the 2004 Summer Olympics (where wheelchair racing was an exhibition sport) she won the 800 m, and went on to an impressive showing with 5 gold medals at the 2004 Summer Paralympics. When she returned from Athens in 2004, Petitclerc told reporters the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing would be her last big international meeting but that she will continue training and road racing for a while. For her performance in 2008, she was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian athlete of the year[4] and the Canadian Press's Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada's female athlete of the year.[5] Petitclerc was also awarded the Best Female award at the Paralympic Sport Awards.[6]

With her 5 golds in the 2004 Paralympics, she tied the existing Canadian gold medal record at a single Games, Winter or Summer, set by Stephanie Dixon at the 2000 Summer Paralympics. Her 5 golds in the 2008 Paralympics tied that record. As of 2010, the record still stood.[7] As of 2012 she holds five world records for wheelchair racing.[8] As of 2019 she is still the most gold-medalled female paralympic athlete with 14 golds and 21 medals.[9]

She was chosen as the flagbearer of the Canadian team at the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Commonwealth Games.[10]

Petitclerc lives in Montreal, and trains at Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard.

Rio Tinto Alcan is her main sponsor since 1998.

Petitclerc was appointed as a coach and mentor to the British athletics team ahead of the 2012 Summer Paralympics, working alongside her former coach and UK Athletics' Paralympic head coach Peter Eriksson.[11]

Petitclerc was named the Chef de Mission for Canada's 2014 Commonwealth Games team.[10] She was also named Chef de Mission for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.[12]

Personal life

Petitclerc is married to electro-acoustic music composer James Duhamel and gave birth to son Elliot in December 2013.[1]


On March 18, 2016, Petitclerc was named to the Senate of Canada on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She sits as an Independent senator, part of the Independent Senators Group. Her main priorities in the Senate are health as well as the rights of persons with disabilities. In June 2016, Senator Petitclerc delivered her first speech in the Chamber on Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying). Her speech moved many of her colleagues, when she quoted: "When you have a disability, the worst part is feeling as if you have no control over your own life, over your own body. It happens to all people with disabilities, I can assure you." She also sponsored Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non Smokers' Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.[13]

Honours and awards

The St-Marc-des-Carrières municipal ice hockey arena now bears her name.

In 2002, Petitclerc was awarded with the Meritorious Service Medal (civil division).[14]

In 2005, Petitclerc was invested as a Knight of the Order of Quebec[15]

On June 16, 2009, it was announced that Petitclerc would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto. The induction ceremony was held on September 12, 2009.[16]

In 2009, she was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada "for her achievements as a Paralympic champion known internationally as an inspiration, and for her commitment to developing sports for athletes with a disability".[17]

In 2010, she was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary, Alberta.[18]

In 2012, she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Alberta.[8]

Petitclerc has also received both the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal [19] and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.[20]

In 2015, Petitclerc was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Freeborn, Jeremy. "Chantal Petitclerc". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  2. ^ Kaminker, Laura (January 1, 2008). "2007 Person of the Year: Chantal Petitclerc". New Mobility.
  3. ^ a b "Chantal Petitclerc, 2004". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  4. ^ "Petitclerc wins 2008 Lou Marsh Award". The Sports Network. 2008-12-09. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2008-12-09.
  5. ^ "Petitclerc voted CP's female athlete of the year". The Sports Network. 2008-12-26. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  6. ^ "Paralympic Awards Winners Honoured in Kuala Lumpur". International Paralympic Committee. 21 November 2009.
  7. ^ Vancouver Sun, "Woolstencroft wins fifth gold medal" Archived 2018-10-04 at the Wayback Machine, CanWest News Service, 21 March 2010 (accessed 21 March 2010)
  8. ^ a b Roy-Brenneis, Derek (April 30, 2012). "UAlberta honorary degrees announced". University of Alberta. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012.
  9. ^ "History of para athletics". World Para athletics.
  10. ^ a b "Chantal Petitclerc brings passion to Commonwealth Games". Glasgow 2014 XX Commonwealth Games. CBC Sports. The Canadian Press. July 17, 2014. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  11. ^ "Chantal Petitclerc to join GB Paralympic athletics team as coach". 28 November 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Chantal Petitclerc named Canada's chef de mission for Rio Paralympics". CBC Sports. The Canadian Press. September 8, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  13. ^ "Murray Sinclair, Chantal Peticlerc among 7 new Liberal-appointed Senators". CBC. CBC News. March 18, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  14. ^ "Honours Secretariat, Governor General of Canada". Honours Secretariat, Office of the governor General. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  15. ^ "Order of Quebec". Order of Quebec. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  16. ^ "The Stars Align at the 12th Annual Canada's Walk of Fame". Canada's Walk of Fame. 2009-06-16. Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  17. ^ "Governor General announces 60 new appointments to the Order of Canada". July 1, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-07-05.
  18. ^ "Roy, Hughes and Petitclerc head Canadian Sports Hall of Fame class". Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  19. ^ "Honours Secretariat, Governor General of Canada". Honours Secretariat, Office of the governor General. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  20. ^ "Honours Secretariat, Governor General of Canada". Honours Secretariat, Office of the governor General. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  21. ^ "Inductees". Canadian Paralympic Committee. Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.