MONCTON – A 22-year-old New Brunswick woman is representing Canada at the International Wheelchair and Amputee games in Stoke Mandeville, England, beginning next week.
Christel Robichaud flies out Thursday and will compete in the discus and shot put events. She’s ranked first in her class in the country and is one of only five Canadian para-athletes set to compete at the event.
She’s also the only New Brunswicker with a spot on the national team.
“Probably when I get there it’s going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, there is a lot of people, I am not used to this,’” she said in an interview with Global News Wednesday.
Robichaud has Spina Bifida – but, more importantly, has some big dreams. She’s aiming to toss the discus at the Paralympics someday. And her trainer, Steve LeBlanc, says she’s got the potential.
“She’s been training in the sport for a year so to be on a national team is exceptional and is a pretty good indication of where she is able to go in the future,” he said.
Dealing with adversity is nothing new for Robichaud. Like so many Canadian athlete’s, she struggles to support her Olympic dreams.
“Living on $758/month is kind of hard for anyone and add sports costs to that,” she said.
Now that she’s on a national team, she hopes to access a $4,000 grant from the province. A province which, LeBlanc says, is becoming known across the country as a place where para-athletes are born.
“We’ve been one of the leaders in Canada for the development of para-athletics.”
Robichaud hopes that her experience at the worlds, win or lose, will encourage even more young people in the province with different abilities to take up competitive sport.