Guillaume Ouellet always lured by the thrill of competition

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 17, 2021

Middle distance runner set for second Paralympic Games in Tokyo

Guillaume Ouellet action

Even when he was a teenager and brought his friends to the family cottage, Guillaume Ouellet fought for every advantage.

‘’We used to play silly games to see who would finish last and do the dishes,’’ said Ouellet, the 2015 world champion in the T13 5000-metres for visually impaired runners, who is headed to his second Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

‘’I wanted to win every time there was something on the line. At lunch hour at school, I played all kinds of sports.”

The 34-year-old from Victoriaville, Que.’s life changed when he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 2004, a retinal disease which causes progressive loss of vision. Luckily Ouellet was already aware of the Paralympic Movement and he knew there were opportunities to maintain his competitive spirit.

Still it was six years before he made the decision to pursue his dream. His first goal was to end his sedentary lifestyle and eventually run 10 kilometres in under 40 minutes.

‘’It seems strange to say but the first thing I thought of when I left the doctor’s office after my diagnosis was going to the Paralympics,’’ said Ouellet, married with two young children. ‘’After a few years I started running and discovered this is really something I want to do.’’

In 2010, Ouellet put his affairs in order to pursue his Paralympic dream and by 2013 he was one of the top middle-distance runners in his category. That year he was fourth at the world championships in the 1500m. He then he won the Parapan Am Games title in 2015 at the same distance. In the 5000m, he won the 2015 world championships and placed fourth at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 

Most recently, he captured gold in the 5000m at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games and picked up a fourth-place result at the 2019 world championships. 

‘’When I started running seriously the biggest challenge was finding places to run due to my vision. I wanted clear areas with good surfaces. It was harder running on bumpy trails so I had to avoid those. Once I found my course, training became easier.’’

In 2014, Ouellet’s journey took another twist as he and his wife Marie-Christine welcomed their first child. Managing family life and high-performance sport became another challenge for Ouellet to master.

‘’It’s not easy but my sport doesn’t require as much travel as other sports,’’ he said. ‘’I’m able to do most of my training at home or around Victoriaville. I have a routine with the kids [now three and seven] bringing them to school or day care, focusing on the training, then picking them up.’’

Ouellet says the life of a high-performance athlete will benefit him in his post-career ambitions.

‘’I’m proud with how I’ve been able to manage myself, question myself and put things back in order,’’ he said. ‘’I’m always thinking about how I can be a better athlete. I call it the school of sport and it’s something that will follow me and be part of me the rest of my life.’’

His education continues at Tokyo 2020. 

For more stories about Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympians, visit

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