September 16, 2008
Petitclerc closes with
Canadian athlete shines in her final Paralympics
Canadian Chantal Petitclerc won the 1,500-metre wheelchair
race (T54) in Beijing on Tuesday, a fitting end to an exceptional
It was her fifth gold medal of the Beijing Games,
which will be her last Paralympics.
“I knew I was going to win," said Petitclerc,
whose coach sprayed her with champagne after her victory. "When
I saw I was on my own, it was like a bonus. These Games have been
so good. I felt like it was a gift to finish it all alone. It was
Petitclerc broke out of the pack with about 300 metres
remaining and handily won the race in three minutes 39.88 seconds.
Britain's Shelly Woods was second in 3:40.99 while Edith Hunkeler
of Switzerland was third in 3:41.03.
Canada's Diane Roy was eighth in 3:43.66. She will
race the marathon on Wednesday.
Petitclerc, 38, said it still had not sunk in that it was her final
Paralympics race. "When I get to the village and I really absorb
everything, I think it will sink in," she said. "It's
just so great. I know I have worked really hard for it. Nobody gave
it to me."
“I took on a big challenge earlier this year when I decided
to enter five events," she told CBC Television. "I knew
it was possible to do. I knew I had the fitness level and strength,
but to actually have these five gold medals is amazing. It’s
Petitclerc, who races in the T54 class — for wheelchair athletes
with a range of spinal cord injuries and amputations — also
won the 100, 200, 400 and 800 in Beijing, setting world records
in the last three events.
Petitclerc has won 21 medals through five Paralympics, including
14 gold, five silver and two bronze.
The Montreal native lost the use of her legs in a car accident
when she was 13 years old.