CPC mourns the loss of Paralympic champion Mel Fitzgerald

Canadian Paralympic Committee

October 04, 2023

Para sport pioneer won three gold medals over two Games


OTTAWA – The Canadian Paralympic Committee is mourning the loss of Paralympic champion Mel Fitzgerald, an early pioneer for Para sport in Canada.

A native of Trepassey, N.L., Fitzgerald passed away earlier this month. He was 70.

Known for his full beard and huge upper torso, Fitzgerald competed in Para athletics at the 1980 Paralympics in Arnhem, Netherlands and the 1984 Games at Stoke Mandeville, UK. He was one of Canada’s most successful Paralympians during that time frame.

The wheelchair racer, diagnosed with polio at age two, was a quadruple medallist at both Games. In 1980, he won gold in the 800-m and 1500-m races (in world record times), silver in the 100 and bronze in the 4×100 relay. Four years later, he triumphed in the marathon, added silver in the 1500 and 5000, and a bronze in the 800.

Fitzgerald also excelled in wheelchair basketball and won several marathons throughout his career.

An ardent advocate for sport for people with a disability throughout his career, Fitzgerald helped pave the way for Para athletes today.

He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and in 2018 was inducted into the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association Hall of Fame. In 1980, he was named Canada’s outstanding male athlete by the Sports Federation of Canada.

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