Road To The Olympic Games

10 Canadian Paralympians to watch

Canadian Paralympic athletes have been in a league of their own when competing at the Olympics.

These athletes should help Canada meet its top-5 goal

Canadian Paralympic athletes have been in a league of their own when competing at the Olympics.

The 2008 team consists of 143 athletes - the same number the Canadian Paralympic Committee sent to the 2004 Athens Games.

Canada finished third in the medal standings during the last two Paralympics, and Canadian officials are hoping for another top-five placing this year in Beijing.

With the Paralympics set to begin Sept. 7, here are 10 athletes who should help Canada reach its top-five goal:

Chantal Petitclerc (Wheelchair racing): Petiticlerc is one of the most celebrated athletes in Paralympic history. The Quebec native had a Michael Phelps-type performance at the 2004 Athens Games after winning five gold medals - in the 100-metre, 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 events. She has also reached the top of the podium on three other occasions in Sydney and Atlanta. Petitclerc, who announced this would be her final Paralympic Games, won a gold medal in the exhibition wheelchair competition at the Athens Olympics. Sadly, the 38-year-old Montrealer won't have the opportunity to defend her title in Beijing as the wheelchair events have been discontinued from the Olympic Games.

Jeff Adams (Wheelchair racing): Perhaps no other Paralympian heads into the Beijing Games with more motivation than this Mississauga, Ont., native. Adams, a two-time gold medallist (800 and 1,500) at the 2000 Sydney Games and six-time world champion, was suspended in 2006 because of a positive test for cocaine. After a two-year fight, the Court of Arbitration for Sport exonerated Adams in May, allowing the former world-record holder to compete in his fifth Paralympics competition.

André Beaudoin (Wheelchair racing): A veteran of wheelchair racing since age 28, the 13-time Paralympic medallist starred for Canada four years ago in Athens. Beaudoin pulled off the Paralympic trifecta in 2004, winning gold in the 200, and then capturing a silver and bronze in the 400 and 100, respectively.

Tracey Ferguson (Wheelchair racing and wheelchair basketball): Ferguson could reach the podium in two sports when she competes in Beijing. The Richmond, Ont., athlete has been a mainstay on the women's wheelchair basketball team, winning three straight Paralympic gold medals and a bronze in Athens. Ferguson is also an accomplished wheelchair racer, setting three new personal best times in three events - 200, 400 and 800 - at the 2008 Capital Para-Sports Summer Regional Games in Ottawa.

Lisa Franks (Wheelchair basketball): Already an accomplished wheelchair racer, Franks joined the Canadian women's national wheelchair basketball team as an alternate in 2005, and was named to the team a year later. Her impressive lists of achievements include five Paralympic gold medals. She was also successful in defending her 400 crown at the Athens Games.

Patrick Anderson (Wheelchair basketball): Born in Edmonton, Anderson is widely regarded as one of the most talented wheelchair basketball players in the world. Anderson played a key role in helping the men's team win back-to-back gold medals during the last two Paralympic Games. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Anderson was named MVP of the Australian National Wheelchair Basketball League in 2004.

Kirby Côté (Swimming): Like Petitclerc, Côté was dominant at the Athens Paralympics, capturing five gold medals. In the last two Paralympic Games, Côté has won seven gold and four silver medals. The Winnipeg native, who has also set three world records during her illustrious swimming career, plans to add even more gold-medal hardware in Beijing.

Stephanie Dixon (Swimming): Dixon is one of the most decorated Canadian athletes ever to compete at the Paralympic Games. Over the last two Olympics, the Victoria resident has won a total 13 medals, including six golds. Despite being born with one leg, she began competing against able-bodied athletes at 13, and made Canada's national team for swimmers with a disability a year later.

Valérie Grand'Maison (Swimming): The 19-year-old Montreal athlete is looking to continue the rich tradition of great Canadian swimmers. Grand'Maison currently owns five long-course world records in the 100, 200, 400, and 800 freestyle events, along with the 400 individual medley. At the world championships in South Africa two years ago, Grand'Maison won five gold medals and broke a 10-year-old world record in the 100 freestyle.

Benoit Huot (Swimming): Huot made an immediate impact on the international Paralympic scene at age 14 when he won two gold medals and four silvers during the world championships. Now 24, Huot has already broken several records and currently holds three world marks, including the 200 IM and 800 freestyle. The Montreal swimmer continued his dominance at the Athens Games following a four-gold-medal performance.