Canada's Chantal Petitclerc celebrates her fifth gold medal of the Paralympic Games in Beijing this past September. ((Eugene Hoshiko Eugene/Associated Press) )

Wheelchair athlete Chantal Petitclerc added more hardware to her incredible career Tuesday.

The Montreal native was named the Lou Marsh Award winner as Canada's most outstanding athlete, an honour decided on by a panel of sports editors and broadcasters.

Petitclerc, 38, completed her Paralympic career by winning five gold medals at this summer's Beijing Games.

Petitclerc earned the annual honour over six other Canadian athletes including:

  • World figure-skating champion Jeffrey Buttle
  • Olympic wrestling gold medallist Carol Huynh
  • Olympic equestrian champion Eric Lamaze
  • Baseball's Justin Morneau
  • Tennis star Daniel Nestor
  • Olympic triathlete silver medallist Simon Whitfield

Three months before her 39th birthday, Petitclerc won five gold medals in the 1,500 metres, 800, 400, 200 and 100 in Beijing — matching her success at the previous Paralympics at the 2004 Athens Games.

She also set three world records, in the 200, 400 and 800.

Petitclerc's ascent to the top of the world of disabled sports started in 1982 when she lost the use of both legs in an accident.

She took up swimming in high school before turning to wheelchair racing at 18. Petitclerc initially struggled, finishing dead last in her first race while competing in a homemade wheelchair.

But there was no turning back for the future star.

She enrolled at the University of Alberta to train with Peter Eriksson, who is still her coach.

Under his guidance, Petitclerc rose through the ranks of international competition.

She went to her first Paralympics in 1992, coming back from Barcelona with two bronze medals.

In the years since, she has expanded her Paralympic medal collection to include 14 gold medals and five silver medals.