Parkdale para-cyclist Shelley Gautier gears up for 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Community Dec 31, 2014 by Hilary Caton Parkdale Villager

Paralympian and longtime Parkdale resident Shelley Gautier is enjoying winter in Florida - but it’s no vacation.

She’s currently training three times a week for about two hours in Pine Island, Florida as she gears up for the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Switzerland (July 28 to August 2) where she returns as the only Canadian cyclist to be a four-time gold medal winner at any level.

“I work hard and that’s why I want to be a five-time champion and do what I have to do,” Gautier told The Villager from Florida.

She’s also training for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto where she will represent Team Canada. She couldn’t be more excited to be cycling through parts of her neighbourhood and competing where friends and family can come out and support her during the race. According to Gautier, this competition will be that much more meaningful for her.

“My family will be there, I live in Toronto and I went to school there,” she said.

“I want to do my best and just hopefully I make them proud and get a medal.”

This year, 15 parasports including Gautier’s Cycling Road event will be a qualifier for the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games in Rio, Brazil. In 2012, Gautier travelled to London, England to compete in the Paralympic Games and placed 14th in the road cycling open tricycle event and 11th in the tricycle time-trial event.

The cycling road event at the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games will have four different types of bicycles on the road: traditional, tandem, tricycles and hand ergometers. The route will start on the grounds at Exhibition Place, travel along Lake Shore Boulevard and manoeuvre through trails in High Park, an area Gautier has cycled frequently in her years in Parkdale. She hopes that knowing the trail will give her a home field advantage.

She competed in the 2011 Parapan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and received a silver medal for the open tricycle time trial event; this year she’s going for gold and hopes her medal placement sends an inspirational message to those watching the event.

“The fact that I’m a triker, I’m from Toronto...I want to show people that I’m disabled, but there’s stuff I can do,” she said.

“Hopefully we can get other disabled people out there biking. I’d like to use the Parapan games to try and get more people involved in para-cycling. I think that’s really important not just for me, but for other people.”

Gautier was involved in a mountain biking accident in 2001 that put her in a coma for six weeks. When she came to she was diagnosed as a hemiplegic, which left her paralyzed on the right side of her body. Before the accident she was right dominant and because of her paralysis, she had to relearn everything with her left. All the controls on her bike, from brakes to gear shifting are all located on the left side of her custom trike.

But her disability hasn’t stopped her from cycling in any way: within a year she was back on her bike again and by 2007 she was out competing in 50-kilometre races. She was also recently named 2014 Female Athlete of the Year by the Ontario Cycling Association and its Female Cyclist of the Year.

“It felt really good, to be Female Cyclist of the Year out of all the women cyclists in Ontario...It’s an honour,” Gautier said.

“I’m a disabled person and yet I did it. It’s something to be very proud of.”

Before the accident Gautier was a practising physiotherapist, now she speaks at the University of Toronto to students studying physiotherapy and occupational therapy. According to Gautier in her latest speeches she likes to encourage students to remember to ask patients about their goals in life in order to encourage them to look at life beyond their injury and disability.

“You don’t have to sit in your house, or your wheelchair and not do anything or sit in your house and cry,” she explained.

“There’s art and sports. I think it’s really important that someone gets that idea into their head, so that when they’re in the hospital they can think about it. I’ve been in the hospital for quite a few months and it’s not a great experience. Setting goals are very important, you need to have a positive focus.”

As Gautier looks to the future, she cannot wait to compete in the Parapan Am Games in Toronto and she’s not concerning herself about qualifying for Rio.

“I do well in all my races so I don’t worry about that,” she said.

“They just want you to do the best you can and not worry about whether you qualified or not ... You just have to be the best you can be.”

Parkdale para-cyclist Shelley Gautier gears up for 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Community Dec 31, 2014 by Hilary Caton Parkdale Villager

Paralympian and longtime Parkdale resident Shelley Gautier is enjoying winter in Florida - but it’s no vacation.

She’s currently training three times a week for about two hours in Pine Island, Florida as she gears up for the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Switzerland (July 28 to August 2) where she returns as the only Canadian cyclist to be a four-time gold medal winner at any level.

“I work hard and that’s why I want to be a five-time champion and do what I have to do,” Gautier told The Villager from Florida.

She’s also training for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto where she will represent Team Canada. She couldn’t be more excited to be cycling through parts of her neighbourhood and competing where friends and family can come out and support her during the race. According to Gautier, this competition will be that much more meaningful for her.

“My family will be there, I live in Toronto and I went to school there,” she said.

“I want to do my best and just hopefully I make them proud and get a medal.”

This year, 15 parasports including Gautier’s Cycling Road event will be a qualifier for the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games in Rio, Brazil. In 2012, Gautier travelled to London, England to compete in the Paralympic Games and placed 14th in the road cycling open tricycle event and 11th in the tricycle time-trial event.

The cycling road event at the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games will have four different types of bicycles on the road: traditional, tandem, tricycles and hand ergometers. The route will start on the grounds at Exhibition Place, travel along Lake Shore Boulevard and manoeuvre through trails in High Park, an area Gautier has cycled frequently in her years in Parkdale. She hopes that knowing the trail will give her a home field advantage.

She competed in the 2011 Parapan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and received a silver medal for the open tricycle time trial event; this year she’s going for gold and hopes her medal placement sends an inspirational message to those watching the event.

“The fact that I’m a triker, I’m from Toronto...I want to show people that I’m disabled, but there’s stuff I can do,” she said.

“Hopefully we can get other disabled people out there biking. I’d like to use the Parapan games to try and get more people involved in para-cycling. I think that’s really important not just for me, but for other people.”

Gautier was involved in a mountain biking accident in 2001 that put her in a coma for six weeks. When she came to she was diagnosed as a hemiplegic, which left her paralyzed on the right side of her body. Before the accident she was right dominant and because of her paralysis, she had to relearn everything with her left. All the controls on her bike, from brakes to gear shifting are all located on the left side of her custom trike.

But her disability hasn’t stopped her from cycling in any way: within a year she was back on her bike again and by 2007 she was out competing in 50-kilometre races. She was also recently named 2014 Female Athlete of the Year by the Ontario Cycling Association and its Female Cyclist of the Year.

“It felt really good, to be Female Cyclist of the Year out of all the women cyclists in Ontario...It’s an honour,” Gautier said.

“I’m a disabled person and yet I did it. It’s something to be very proud of.”

Before the accident Gautier was a practising physiotherapist, now she speaks at the University of Toronto to students studying physiotherapy and occupational therapy. According to Gautier in her latest speeches she likes to encourage students to remember to ask patients about their goals in life in order to encourage them to look at life beyond their injury and disability.

“You don’t have to sit in your house, or your wheelchair and not do anything or sit in your house and cry,” she explained.

“There’s art and sports. I think it’s really important that someone gets that idea into their head, so that when they’re in the hospital they can think about it. I’ve been in the hospital for quite a few months and it’s not a great experience. Setting goals are very important, you need to have a positive focus.”

As Gautier looks to the future, she cannot wait to compete in the Parapan Am Games in Toronto and she’s not concerning herself about qualifying for Rio.

“I do well in all my races so I don’t worry about that,” she said.

“They just want you to do the best you can and not worry about whether you qualified or not ... You just have to be the best you can be.”

Parkdale para-cyclist Shelley Gautier gears up for 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Community Dec 31, 2014 by Hilary Caton Parkdale Villager

Paralympian and longtime Parkdale resident Shelley Gautier is enjoying winter in Florida - but it’s no vacation.

She’s currently training three times a week for about two hours in Pine Island, Florida as she gears up for the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Switzerland (July 28 to August 2) where she returns as the only Canadian cyclist to be a four-time gold medal winner at any level.

“I work hard and that’s why I want to be a five-time champion and do what I have to do,” Gautier told The Villager from Florida.

She’s also training for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto where she will represent Team Canada. She couldn’t be more excited to be cycling through parts of her neighbourhood and competing where friends and family can come out and support her during the race. According to Gautier, this competition will be that much more meaningful for her.

“My family will be there, I live in Toronto and I went to school there,” she said.

“I want to do my best and just hopefully I make them proud and get a medal.”

This year, 15 parasports including Gautier’s Cycling Road event will be a qualifier for the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games in Rio, Brazil. In 2012, Gautier travelled to London, England to compete in the Paralympic Games and placed 14th in the road cycling open tricycle event and 11th in the tricycle time-trial event.

The cycling road event at the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games will have four different types of bicycles on the road: traditional, tandem, tricycles and hand ergometers. The route will start on the grounds at Exhibition Place, travel along Lake Shore Boulevard and manoeuvre through trails in High Park, an area Gautier has cycled frequently in her years in Parkdale. She hopes that knowing the trail will give her a home field advantage.

She competed in the 2011 Parapan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and received a silver medal for the open tricycle time trial event; this year she’s going for gold and hopes her medal placement sends an inspirational message to those watching the event.

“The fact that I’m a triker, I’m from Toronto...I want to show people that I’m disabled, but there’s stuff I can do,” she said.

“Hopefully we can get other disabled people out there biking. I’d like to use the Parapan games to try and get more people involved in para-cycling. I think that’s really important not just for me, but for other people.”

Gautier was involved in a mountain biking accident in 2001 that put her in a coma for six weeks. When she came to she was diagnosed as a hemiplegic, which left her paralyzed on the right side of her body. Before the accident she was right dominant and because of her paralysis, she had to relearn everything with her left. All the controls on her bike, from brakes to gear shifting are all located on the left side of her custom trike.

But her disability hasn’t stopped her from cycling in any way: within a year she was back on her bike again and by 2007 she was out competing in 50-kilometre races. She was also recently named 2014 Female Athlete of the Year by the Ontario Cycling Association and its Female Cyclist of the Year.

“It felt really good, to be Female Cyclist of the Year out of all the women cyclists in Ontario...It’s an honour,” Gautier said.

“I’m a disabled person and yet I did it. It’s something to be very proud of.”

Before the accident Gautier was a practising physiotherapist, now she speaks at the University of Toronto to students studying physiotherapy and occupational therapy. According to Gautier in her latest speeches she likes to encourage students to remember to ask patients about their goals in life in order to encourage them to look at life beyond their injury and disability.

“You don’t have to sit in your house, or your wheelchair and not do anything or sit in your house and cry,” she explained.

“There’s art and sports. I think it’s really important that someone gets that idea into their head, so that when they’re in the hospital they can think about it. I’ve been in the hospital for quite a few months and it’s not a great experience. Setting goals are very important, you need to have a positive focus.”

As Gautier looks to the future, she cannot wait to compete in the Parapan Am Games in Toronto and she’s not concerning herself about qualifying for Rio.

“I do well in all my races so I don’t worry about that,” she said.

“They just want you to do the best you can and not worry about whether you qualified or not ... You just have to be the best you can be.”