Chef de Mission Chantal Petitclerc inspires Toronto athletes ahead of Rio 2016 Paralympic games

With less than 200 days to go, Petitclerc visits third city in national tour

TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2016 /CNW/ - As the countdown continues to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Chef de Mission Chantal Petitclerc spent today touring Toronto, firing up local athletes on their road to Rio and thanking supporters.

At the spectacular Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, the iconic wheelchair racer Petitclerc joined with Oakville's Melanie Hawtin, a 2014 world champion in wheelchair basketball, and men's team athletes training at the Wheelchair Basketball Canada National Academy. Following the training session, Hawtin guided supporters in trying out the sport for themselves.

"It's been very inspiring to spend time with Chantal today as she was actually my role model in getting started in Paralympic sport," said Hawtin, who began her career in para-athletics before switching to wheelchair basketball. "With just over six months to go until Rio, it has been exciting to showcase our thrilling sport and to take the time to thank our supporters who are behind us in our quest for the podium in Rio."

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will take place September 7 to 18, 2016. Hawtin is aiming to make her Paralympic Games debut in Rio.

Earlier in the day, Petitclerc delighted young fans with a surprise visit to Variety Village's 31st Annual Lieutenant Governor Games, which brought together over 700 children with disabilities from the Greater Toronto Area.

Visits to a local para-canoe program, corporate partners and an evening reception were also part of Petitclerc's schedule.

"As I cross the country, I am continually impressed by the calibre of our high performance athletes, their dedication to excellence and their character," said Petitclerc. "I know they are leaving no stone unturned as they prepare for what will be a spectacular Paralympic Games in Rio. It's also been a privilege to meet so many dedicated supporters of the Paralympic movement, and to them I express our continued gratitude for their involvement."

Petitclerc, a five-time Paralympian who won 21 medals at the Games in a brilliant wheelchair racing career, is crossing the country to promote Paralympic sport and athletes on the road to Rio. The eight-city tour got underway in December in Ottawa/Gatineau, followed by a stop in Calgary in January.

The next stops on the Road to Rio tour will be April 21 in Halifax followed by April 26 in Montreal.

For more information about the Canadian Paralympic Committee:


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SOURCE Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC)

Image with caption: "Rio 2016 wheelchair basketball hopefuls Melanie Hawtin and Bo Hedges were inspired by Chef de Mission Chantal Petitclerc in Toronto today. (CNW Group/Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC))". Image available at:

For further information: Alison Korn, Senior Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Phone: 613-569-4333 ext. 243, Cell: 613-298-4927,; Martin Richard, Executive Director, Communications and Marketing, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Cell: 613-725-4339,


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