Chantal Petitclerc Wins Maclean’s 2004 Canadian of the Year Award

 

Gold-medal wheelchair athlete Chantal Petitclerc has made the disability community proud by nailing Maclean’s magazine’s 2004 Canadian of the Year award. She is in esteemed company: The award, inaugurated a year ago, was first given to Stephen Lewis in honour of his international fight against HIV/AIDS. This year, Maclean’s selected Petitclerc in recognition of her outstanding performance on the track.

Petitclerc excelled at the Summer Paralympics in Athens, winning five gold medals for Canada and breaking three world records. And the headlines didn’t stop there. When Athletics Canada decided she would share the top award for track and field with Perdita Felicien – who slipped up at the Olympics and lost any chance for a medal – Petitclerc refused to accept the award. She didn’t want to send a message that her athletic achievements were not as worthy as those of an able-bodied athlete.

The disability community appreciated her resolve. As Marie White, chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, told Maclean’s: “When you see someone of this character and this stature say she’s unwilling to accept second best, that speaks to all people with disabilities.”

 

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