28 November 2011
Five-time Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc, one of the most decorated athletes of all time with 14 Paralympic gold medals, will join the ParalympicsGB athletics team as a coach and mentor for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Petitclerc will attend all key preparation camps and competitions from January 2012. She will work directly with Britain’s wheelchair racers alongside her own former coach Peter Eriksson - UKA’s Paralympic Head Coach - and Kelly Smith, a marathon silver medallist for Canada in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. In addition, she will act as a mentor for young athletes in the build up to, and during the Games.
Petitclerc won two bronze medals on her Paralympic Games debut in Barcelona in 1992 but went onto win a total of 21 Paralympic Games medals throughout her extraordinary career in all distances from T54 100m through to 1500m.
“When Peter first approached me I know it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss,” said the well respected public speaker who previously held positions on the board of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Athletics Canada.
“I have a great passion for the sport and as an athlete I wanted to be the best in the world. As a coach I also want to work with the best in the world and I think that Peter and I, as well as the rest of the staff, share a real determination to succeed. I hope that in addition to offering advice in preparation and competition based on my own experiences I can also share some of what I’ve learned along the way to help motivate and inspire our athletes to be the best they can be.”
Peter Eriksson, Athletics Team Leader for the 2012 Paralympic Games, said: “We continue to value the importance of attention to detail and throughout my time at UKA that has been integral to everything we’ve done.
“We achieved our target of a top ten finish in the medal table in the IPC Athletics World Championships in January and in order to repeat that performance in London we must continue to work hard.
”In addition to building the best possible squad of athletes - which I believe we currently have following a strict funding review - we need to have a top class coaching team in place and with the addition of Chantal I think we’re making that happen. Not only can she offer first rate coaching advice, but she can motivate, inspire and guide our athletes after a successful and lengthy career of her own.”
Penny Briscoe, ParalympicsGB Performance Director, said: “We have high standards across all our sports and our mission statement is clear that we aim to send the best prepared team to every summer and winter Paralympic Games. The addition of Chantal completes a strong staff team for athletics both on and off the track; London 2012 offers us an incredible opportunity to inspire and deliver lasting change in Paralympic sport in Great Britain and an athlete of Chantal’s calibre can play a significant role by inspiring and advising athletes based on her own competition experiences, both good and bad.”
Shelly Woods, a double medallist in the Beijing Paralympic Games and runner up in both London and New York marathons in 2011, is excited about Petitclerc’s involvement: “I think it’s fantastic, when I heard I just said ‘no freakin’ way!’. I’m so amazed!
“Peter has been building this team for some time and when he brought in Kelly (Kelly Smith) that was brilliant. He asked if there was still something missing and I said the only person that could make it even better was Chantal. I’m really excited and I’m still totally shocked. I’ve got so many questions to ask her. She’s one of my idols and although she was one of my rivals when she was racing I really looked up to her.
“You just can’t get better than having Kelly and Chantal involved; they’ll be fantastic working together. They have so much to offer and they’ll bring so much energy to everything we do.”