Nathan Clement shows his zest for sports

Canadian Paralympic Committee

July 27, 2023

Former Para swimmer now among Para cycling’s elite

Nathan Clement 2023

TORONTO – Cycling has always been part of Nathan Clement’s life. Now it’s his obsession.

Within the space of two seasons, Clement has emerged among the top Para cyclists in the world and is on the verge of becoming a two-sport athlete at the Paralympic Games. Back in 2016 in Rio, Clement was a member of the Para swimming squad and reached the final in the men’s 50m butterfly placing seventh.

‘’In 2018, I felt it was the time for me to switch some things up in my own life,” recalled the 28-year-old Clement about his decision to stop swimming competitively. ‘’I took some time away to go backpacking and really reset because I was in an endless loop of training and racing.’’

It was his first break in a long time.

‘’I was just so focused on performing and being the best version of myself as a swimmer, I needed time to decompress and figure out what I wanted to do in my own life.’’

Cycling was a big part of that life re-evaluation, and it eventually triggered his desire to compete again.

‘’I always loved cycling, I did it as a cross training sport when I was a swimmer,” said the West Vancouver resident who had a stroke at age two which caused him to lose mobility.

‘’I was doing that backpacking trip, and I just had that thought of how cool it would be to see all these different countries, all these different cultures, by bicycle.’’

So he decided to train for his project in 2020. Accompanied by his father, a former Ironman competitor, Clement tested his endurance with a 1,000 km trek on his bike from Fernie, B.C., located near the Alberta border, back home to West Vancouver.

‘’Along that ride, some fires of competitiveness started to burn,” he said. ‘’I got asked a question in an interview if I would be interested in competing in high performance sport again. That resounding answer was yes. I want to do it again and I wanted to jump right back into the flames that high performance sport brings.’’

With that time of reflection, he also didn’t want to make the same mistakes in a second career in high performance sport.

‘’In swimming I was extremely hard on myself to the point where I really hurt my mental health,’’ he admitted. ‘’Now doing a sport like cycling I’ve learned that if I’m beating up on myself hard it’s going to be a long day on the bike.’’

That new mindset was a key to the success to come. Leading up to his first Para cycling season, Clement hit some bumps in the road. He tore a muscle in his right hip and was unable to walk for two months. Then he suffered an ankle injury that caused another setback.

In 2022, Clement returned to the international Para sports scene in spectacular fashion, with silver medals in the T1 (tricycle) time trial and road race in his international debut on the World Cup circuit in Quebec City. Then that same month, he repeated the exploit at the 2022 Para Cycling Road World Championships held in Baie-Comeau, Que.

The journey now continues in Glasgow, Scotland at the 2023 Para cycling worlds.

‘’Just finding that self-love, understanding the implications of when I push myself beyond my own mental health and the impacts of that has really helped me grow as a more caring person to myself.”

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