At the age of 13, Chantal 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. She returned from the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games with 5 gold medals, 2 new world records and 1 new Paralympic record, making her the most celebrated track athlete in history as well as the only Canadian athlete to have won gold medals at the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games. While the Beijing Games would be the last time she would be participating in track competitions, Chantal nevertheless continues to train as she intends to take part in road marathons over the next few years. In 2012, she tried for the first time what could be a new career path as coach and mentor of the UK track and field team at the London Paralympic Games. After her return to Canada, she was named Chef de Mission for the Glascow 2014 Commonwealth Games and most recently Team Canada Chef de Mission for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. In 2016, Chantal was appointed to the Senate of Canada.
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.