Para-athletes include those with spinal cord injuries, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, limb amputations, les autres (disabilities that do not fit in the other categories) and those with intellectual disabilities. Canadian para-athletes have won numerous medals at international competitions, topping the podium at the Paralympics, the Parapan American Games, Commonwealth Games, and world championships in individual events (e.g., swimming, athletics, skiing) as well as team sports (e.g., sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball). Canadians have also been at the forefront of research and organization — the first president of the International Paralympic Committee, Dr. Robert Steadward, is a Canadian.
Image: Benoît Huot. The Canadian Press / Nathan Denette.
Swimmer (born 10 January 1959 in Winnipeg, MB). McIsaac has won the most medals of any Canadian Paralympian, with 28 medals in swimming (including 14 gold) at the Paralympic Games between 1976 and 1988, as well as 17 medals at the World Games in 1979 and 1986. He was the first blind swimmer to use the tumble (or flip) turn, using a “tapping” technique that later became compulsory in competitions for swimmers with visual impairments. McIsaac was named Canadian junior male athlete of the year in 1976 and Manitoban athlete of the year in 1982. He is a member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame and Swimming Canada’s Circle of Excellence.
Swimmer (born 6 May 1969 in North Vancouver, BC). Edgson won 20 medals at the Paralympic Games from 1984 to 1992 and 10 gold medals at the World Swimming Championships for the Physically Disabled. Edgson also holds the Canadian record for most Paralympic gold medals in a career (17) and the most Paralympic gold medals at a single Paralympic Games (9), which was set at the 1988 Paralympic Games in Seoul. He is a member of Swimming Canada’s Circle of Excellence, the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame and the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame, and in 2015 will be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
CC, CQ, MSM, wheelchair racer (born 15 December 1969 in Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, QC). Petitclerc won 21 medals at the Paralympic Games between 1992 and 2008, the most medals won by a Canadian woman in the history of the Paralympic Games and the most career medals won by a woman in athletics at the Paralympic Games. In 2008, Petitclerc became the first Canadian woman with a disability to win the Lou Marsh Award, presented annually to the top Canadian athlete. In 2009, Chantal Petitclerc was awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto and was named a Companion of the Order of Canada. In 2010, Petitclerc was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Alpine skier (born 24 November 1981 in Calgary, AB). Woolstencroft is one of the most decorated Paralympians in Canada, having won 10 medals in total (including eight gold) at three Paralympic Games, as well as eight world championship titles and over 50 World Cup medals. In 2010, she became the first Canadian to win five gold medals at a single Paralympic Winter Games. Woolstencroft has been inducted into theBritish Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Terry Fox Hall of Fame. In 2006 the International Paralympic Committee named her Athlete of the Year.
Benoît Huot, swimmer (born 24 January 1984 in Longueuil, QC). One of Canada’s most successful swimmers, Huot has won 20 medals at the Paralympic Games, 12 medals at the Parapan American Games and over 30 medals at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Swimming Championships.
Brian McKeever, cross-country skier (born 18 June 1979 in Calgary, AB). McKeever won 13 medals in men’s cross-country skiing and biathlon at the Paralympic Winter Games between 2002 and 2014. He has the record for most gold medals (10) for Canada at the Paralympic Winter Games and is tied with alpine skier Lana Spreeman of Olds, AB, for the most medals won by a Canadian athlete in the history of the Paralympic Winter Games (13).In 2010, McKeever became the first athlete to be named to a country’s Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games team in the same year.
Richard (Rick) Marvin Hansen, CC, OBC, Paralympian, wheelchair racer, humanitarian (born 26 August 1957 in Port Alberni, British Columbia). In the 1980s, Rick Hansen won six Paralympic medals and three world championships in wheelchair racing. He was named Canada’s Disabled Athlete of the Year three times and, in 1983, received the Lou Marsh Trophy for Canadian Outstanding Athlete of the Year — an honour he shared with Wayne Gretzky. Hansen is perhaps best known for his Man In Motion World Tour. From 21 March 1985 to 22 May 1987, Hansen wheeled more than 40,000 kilometres in 34 countries to raise awareness, public support and finances for spinal cord research, rehabilitation and wheelchair sports. The tour raised more than $26 million.