Paralympian Search Eyes Tomorrow’s Elite Athletes

May 1, 2017

Montreal, April 29, 2017 - On the lookout for new talent that will make up the paralympic elite of the future, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and its Paralympian Search program made an appearance at the 34th edition of the Défi sportif AlterGo.

A number of Quebec athletes who now dominate their respective sports at national and international levels made their start in the Défi sportif AlterGo. One such athlete is Cindy Ouellet, captain of the national wheelchair basketball team and Paralympian Search ambassador.

“It really helps develop new Canadian athletes. It no longer takes 10 years because it’s easier to spot athletes with potential and direct them to the right organizations more quickly,” said the three-time Paralympian.

Like many of the other members of provincial and national sport organizations that were present, Patrick Côté, head coach of the national wheelchair rugby team, paid close attention to the challenges carried out by candidates. “It can't just be one person!” he stated. Côté had a specific list of items he was there to observe.  “Wheelchair rugby is a power sport so athletes must be strong, powerful, and fast over short distances,” he explained.

Florence Vaillancourt dreams of participating in the Paralympic Games. The para-swimmer hoped she would perform well in the various trials. “I should be able to do well in the race,” she said.

“Some of the trials are more difficult than others, like cycling, for example,” noted Mathilde Labelle, a young para-swimmer who hopes to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games. “I tell myself that with dreams and determination, I have a chance to make it.”

“When it comes down to it, the federations have a few days to look at the athletes’ data, and then they follow up with the athletes directly. Participants are placed into local, provincial, or national programs according to their levels,” explained Catherine Gosselin-Després, Executive Director, Sport for the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

A Productive Program

During the first edition of the Paralympian Search, which took place in 2016, 50% of the athletes that participated in one of the four campaign stops were invited to pursue their training with local, provincial, or national organizations.  “We try to place the athletes in long-term programs to promote continuity and ensure they’re involved in sports they enjoy, either recreationally or competitively.” 

Spotted by Sharon Stubina of Canada Snowboard and Association Québec Snowboard at last year’s Défi sportif AlterGo, Jakob Bouchard is already making his mark in para-snowboarding. “He competed in this season’s provincial circuit.”

The Paralympian Search will make three additional stops in other Canadian cities this year.

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About Défi sportif AlterGo                                                             

World unique, Défi sportif AlterGo is Canada’s largest annual multisport event. From April 24th to 30th, more than 6700 elite and aspiring athletes with disabilities will take part in the 34th edition. An opportunity to live a unique experience, discover high-caliber competitions free of charge and meet athletes from all over the world.