June 9, 2021 by Speakers' Spotlight
Chantal Petitclerc and Jeff Adams on Teamwork, Ambition, and Performance
Chantal Petitclerc and Jeff Adams are two of the most successful wheelchair racers in the world and among the most acclaimed athletes in Canada. The two are also friends and former teammates, and they were both recently profiled on CBC Sports’ program Beyond the Win. Each special gave an overview of their spectacular athletic accomplishments, continued success and achievements in other fields, and interviewed Chantal and Jeff about the lasting skills and impact they gained from participating in competitive sport at the highest levels.
As one of the most honoured and decorated Canadian athletes of all time, Chantal has no shortage of accolades in her biography. With her name in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, on a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, and invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada, Chantal now serves as a member of the Canadian Senate. Beyond the Win host Scott Russell said she was a “tireless advocate for her community,” someone who “leads by example,” and proof that “excellence doesn’t happen accidentally.” Among her many triumphs on the field, Chantal is the only Canadian to win medals at the Olympics, Paralympics, and Commonwealth Games.
Speaking on her current position in Canadian government, Chantal said that she saw herself bringing a special perspective to her role in the senate and continues to work for the betterment of both sport and people across the country. Chantal said that when she was appointed, she wanted to know if she could make a difference, if she could do work that would make a change. Now, five years later, it’s proven to be true.
Among the various ways that she strives to make a difference on the political level is to always bring attention to fundamental part that fitness, exercise, and overall physical health play in making for a strong country. Chantal said we sometimes overestimate how well we are doing in Canada in this regard, that we can always improve. To her, mental and physical health are directly linked, and this important reality is one of the reasons that former athletes are a valuable voice in the political sphere.
Chantal also spoke about how she believes that high performance athletes offer other important qualities when they transition to roles in government and public service. She said that every competitive athlete tries to figure out how to transfer their skills to other realms. Things like goal setting, passion, and ambition are all helpful qualities when it comes to the decision-making process of developing policy and solving problems. These are the ways that Chantal now sees herself putting her talents to use on a grand scale.
Introduced on Beyond the Win as “an innovator, businessman, spokesperson, journalist, and advocate,” Jeff Adams first made a name for himself competing at the highest levels of wheelchair sports since the late 1980s. Multiple Paralympic medals and world championships later, and he’s now entered into a new career focusing on law and equality in sport and life. Speaking to Beyond the Win, Jeff highlighted that it was actually an experience at the Sydney Paralympics that game him his first up-close exposure to law. Chantal had been in a race that was disrupted by a crash, but a lawyer on hand to help the Canadian team worked to apply the law to support her claim to a medal that was then being disputed. Jeff said this experience made him aware of how powerful and what a force for good the law can be.
Like Chantal, Jeff also spoke about how he saw sport as giving him the foundational skills to strive for his goals and achieve success as he has today. He highlighted teamwork and cooperation as such an important aspect of life that he learned as a competitive athlete. “None of us get to our finish lines alone,” he said, adding that he was aware of how lucky he was to be supported as a competitor. Jeff said we should remember everyone contributes and plays a part, so whether in sport, business, or life it’s important to surround ourselves with excellence. We need to have trust and healthy communication with those around us, and these aspects of bring on an athletic team have been “so applicable and transferable to everything I’ve done.”
Obstacles do not get in the way of Chantal Petitclerc. The epitome of determination, perseverance, and discipline, Chantal is the most successful wheelchair racer of all time, boasting multiple medals from all three of the world’s top athletic competitions: The Olympic and Paralympic Games, the World Championships, and the Commonwealth Games. Canada’s Lou Marsh Trophy winner for Athlete of the Year in 2008 and a Member of the Order of Canada, Chantal tells her incredible story to show others that challenges are simply a starting point for success.
Five-time Paralympian and six-time World Champion in wheelchair racing Jeff Adams is living proof that focus, determination, and spirit are the keys to achieving “gold medal” dreams. Combining his unique understanding of life’s challenges with his experience as a world-class athlete, Jeff shares proven methods that help people meet their goals and achieve success. He has faced monumental challenges admirably, competing in six consecutive Summer Paralympics, from 1988 to 2008, and winning a total of three gold, four silver, and six bronze medals.