Anthony Létourneau establishes himself in wheelchair rugby

Canadian Paralympic Committee

October 16, 2023

Love of sport helps with transition after accident


Anthony Létourneau may have lost his natural mobility at the age of 17 due to injuries in a hockey accident, but his love of sports has never subsided.

The 27-year-old from Boisbriand, Que. has emerged as one of the key players on Canada’s wheelchair rugby team. He and his teammates are currently preparing for the Parapan American Games, taking place November 17-26 in Santiago, Chile.

“Sports has always been part of my life as long as I can remember,” said Létourneau, a 2020 Paralympian and two-time world championships team member. ‘’I started skating as a toddler, also took figure skating lessons to learn the basics and then eventually switched to hockey.’’

In addition to hockey, he would keep sharp playing tennis and soccer in the summer. 

In 2013, Létourneau was a defender for the Boisbriand-Sainte-Thérèse Laser, in midget AA. In a game on October 19, he fell badly during a routine play and landed headfirst in the boards. The vertebrae he fractured during his fall left him a quadriplegic.

His determination and perseverance prevailed through his recovery, and he was introduced to wheelchair rugby in September 2014. 

“At the hospital during my recovery my ergo therapist talked to me about the possibility of playing wheelchair rugby,’’ recalled Létourneau. ‘’She already knew about (national team member) Zak Madell and we watched some games on YouTube.

‘’I told her I’ve got to try that! When I got out of the hospital, I was sent to a readaptation centre, and they brought me to a practice and I instantly fell in love with the sport.”

Létourneau quickly became hooked on the physical and tactical aspects of wheelchair rugby, which he found to be quite similar to hockey. He decided to commit himself to the sport by getting himself a rugby wheelchair and joining a club team.

The social aspect of the sport was also a big attraction for Létourneau. Teammate Trevor Hirshfield, with a similar level of disability, was an important mentor.

‘’Not just in rugby, but in everyday life,” said Létourneau. ‘’He showed me how to board a car and a van without the help of a board and also how to travel alone. He just helped me everywhere. In wheelchair rugby we worked a lot on endurance and speed in a wheelchair.’’

Now with his wheelchair rugby resume getting longer, it won’t be long before Létourneau is mentoring a new generation of players.


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