Of the 10 or so women in the world that race wheelchairs at an elite level, there is little doubt that Chantal Petitclerc is the best.
She's won 14 gold medals at the Paralympic Games, including five in Beijing. She will undoubtedly inspire the millions of Canadian girls that dream of growing up to be wheelchair racers.
What's that? You mean no one dreams of growing up to be a wheelchair racer and that Chantal Petitclerc competes in a sport that is not only limited to those with a physical disability, but is also limited to those that have a certain kind of physical disability. Suggesting that there are 10 women competing at an elite level is being liberal. It's probably more like three or four. The reason Petitclerc won so many distances (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m) is because there are too few people competing for athletes to specialize.
If that's the case, you might ask, how is it possible that Petitclerc has been named the winner of the Lou Marsh award as Canada's top athlete? Good question.
Look, Petitclerc deserves our respect. To use the old cliche, she made an awfully lot of lemon aid from that lemon. Good for her, really. She deserves all the respect and, more importantly, the title of athlete. But, through no fault of her own,she absolutely, without question, does not deserve to be called Canada's best athlete. Unless you really think that she has accomplished more than Steve Nash, Sidney Crosby, Julian de Guzman or Christine Sinclair -- athletes that excel in sports that are played by millions -- have.
Petitclerc's story is going to warm the hearts of a lot of non sports fans today. Ahh, isn't that swell that the crippled lady won the award. See kids, you can do anything that you put your mind to. But, it does a disservice to the award. It should be about celebrating those that transcend both their sport and this country. Petitclerc simply doesn't. She is an athlete that pushed herself, yes, but the best in the country? Please. This is a feel good story (a condescending one at that) that insults the intelligence of all thinking sports fans in Canada.
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