1st Canadian to win Paralympic medal on home turf
Colette Bourgonje has competed in six Winter Paralympic Games (Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Torino, Vancouver) and three Summer Paralympic Games (Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney). In the Summer Games, as a wheelchair racer, she won two bronze medals in Barcelona and Atlanta. In sit-skiing, she was a double Paralympic medallist in 1998, 2006 and 2010.
At her most recent Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver 2010, Colette won silver and bronze medals in cross country skiing. She put her name in the history books as the first Canadian to win a Paralympic medal on home snow after she claimed the silver in the women’s 10-kilometre sit-ski race. At the closing ceremonies for Vancouver 2010, she
received the prestigious Whang Youn Dai achievement award, which recognizes individuals who conquer adversities through the pursuit of excellence in sport.
She competed nationally in cross-country skiing before she was struck by a car in 1980 – in her final year of high school – which left her a paraplegic. After a transition period, Colette, who was born in Saskatoon, pursued her sports career and education and was the first graduate of the University of Saskatchewan’s physical education department who used a wheelchair. She acquired a teaching certificate and works as an elementary school teacher.
Courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee