Beyond The Uniform

CAF Veteran competes in the Paralympics

Following a stellar Canadian performance at the Summer Olympics, the Canadian Paralympic team will be headed to Rio, Brazil in just a few days to take up the mantle. Among the 162 athletes Canada is taking to the Paralympics is former military member Christine Gauthier.

Gauthier, a retired Cpl. in the Canadian Army, will be competing in the 200m kayaking paracanoe competition in the KL2 level.

Canoeing and kayaking have played a crucial role in Gauthier’s recovery after a training accident in 1989 left Gauthier with extensive injuries to her knees and spine, causing her to need a wheelchair. Gauthier’s road to recovery was not an easy one, and she still is undergoing surgeries to this day. She’s also experienced depression because of the injuries.

However, Gauthier’s life reached a turning point in 2008 when she was first introduced to kayaking. Soon Gauthier was on the national para-canoe team winning multiple championships.

She is currently a five-time para-canoe world champion.

Just months ago, Gauthier shined at the 2016 Orlando Invictus Games to win five medals. But the medals weren’t the only thing that made the Invictus Games special for Gauthier.

“I could feel that everyone was military, that was something special and different. Regardless which country people were from we all had this similarity and this common background that I don’t feel when I go to world championships or other competitions. I think it’s just the background that we all share at Invictus that makes it so different and so particular,” recalled Gauthier.

She hopes her experience at Invictus has prepared her for the kind of environment she can expect at her first Paralympics.

“I was at least able to have a feel for what the games would look like. So for sure, for the atmosphere and the surroundings, I’m sure the Invictus Games helped me in that sense,” said Gauthier.

Gauthier believes that other former military members have the potential to make it on national teams like the Canadian Paralympic team.

“We already have many of the other aspects you need to become a good athlete. We have the focus we have the determination…I’m always amazed that there aren’t more military people around,” noted Gauthier.

Gauthier heads off to Rio, Brazil for the Paralympics on Sept. 9. Her competitions will be on Sept. 14 and Sept. 15.

“Of course, I want to do well for Canada. Hopefully, everything just falls into place at the right time at the right moment for everything to work out on that day,” said Gauthier.

The 2016 Paralympics will be held from Sept. 7 to Sept. 18.

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MIshall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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