Para judoka Priscilla Gagné feels ‘so much freedom’ in sports

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 23, 2021

Canada’s flag bearer learned value of being active at an early age


Sport has always been part of Priscilla Gagné’s life. And her message to others with a visual impairment is that it can be part of theirs too. 

‘’For any person with a visual impairment looking to get into sport, you can do it,” said Gagné, who has been named Canada’s Opening Ceremony flag bearer for Tokyo 2020 as she heads into her second Paralympic Games. She is considered one of Canada’s top medal hopes.

‘’Do it afraid. You can do it without all of the answers, you can take a measured risk. Sure there might be obstacles you have to overcome and they are going to seem pretty big but be patient. Eventually the right people will come across your path.”

Born with a genetic eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa, she has four degrees of peripheral vision, but no central vision and is considered blind. 
As a child, Gagné followed her older brother and found immediate happiness in being active. She tried sports like karate, hockey and gymnastics.

‘’I hung out with my brother and his friends. We played tag, wrestled, we’d flip couches over. We had so much fun. It was my release. I’d time myself running to school and try to beat the time running home.’’

She was a wrestler in high school but eventually switched to do judo because it was a Paralympic sport. At 14, she went to the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind in Brampton, Ont., where she really developed her athletic skills.

“I really loved the fact I could do anything,’’ said the 35-year-old Gagné about her experience at the school. ‘’I felt so much freedom in sports. I experimented with every sport they offered and all at the same time. I never was in the residence except to sleep and eat.

‘’That gave me so much confidence.’’

She returned to regular high school and competed in both wrestling and track and field. She even worked as a trainer assistant for the rugby team.

Originally from Sarnia, Ont., she now lives in Montreal where she trains at the Judo Canada National Training Centre located at the INS Quebec.

Competing in the 52 kilos category, she is a double silver medallist at the Parapan Am Games, a two-time Para judo Pan Am champion and the bronze medallist at the last world championships in 2018.

In Tokyo, she looks to improve upon her fifth-place finish in Rio. 

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

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