Canadian Charles Moreau reaping rewards of choosing para-cycling
Move to cycling pays off with two Paralympic bronze medals
RIO DE JANEIRO — Three years ago, hand cyclist Charles Moreau made a decision that set him on the path towards earning two bronze medals in Paralympic cycling.
Moreau chose to focus solely on cycling in 2013 with a bid to qualify for Rio after years of success as a triathlete and para-triathlete. This life-altering choice was made largely for monetary reasons.
"It was really hard financially to pay for the equipment necessary for para-triathlon, and there is a lot more equipment needed for para-triathlon," the 34-year-old said.
Moreau's aspirations were different over a decade ago. He had no burning desire to compete as an athlete on the global stage. Racing triathlons were a hobby in his life rather than the central focus. His main ambition was to become a chiropractor like his father, Simon Moreau.
Then on Jan. 20, 2008, he became a paraplegic. His car ran out of gas on the Laviolette Bridge in Trois-Rivières, Que., and a truck struck his car while he waited for assistance from a tow truck. Engaging in sport following the accident is what helped him progress through his rehabilitation.
"Sport helped me to stay in a positive mindset," said Moreau. "It was a part of my life that I could adapt and still do even while in a wheelchair. It gave me good energy. It kept me in a positive state and that is why I decided to focus on [sport] and why I am here today."
His father, Simon Moreau, attests that sport kept his son from becoming despondent about his new physiological reality.
"When such an accident happens and you are about to graduate as a chiropractor, and your dream is just falling apart, sports has just been a very helpful thing for him," said Simon Moreau. "We never saw him depressed, and I was expecting to see him depressed at some point.
"Within six months he said, 'I am going to do triathlon again [as a para-triathlete]."
Charles Moreau thrived as a para-triathlete by winning a silver medal at the 2009 world championships and finished in fourth place each of the following three years. But despite his success in para-triathlon, his financial reality made it easy for him to decide to focus on training for one sport.
His two podium finishes in Rio — the road race where he was not expecting to medal and the time trial – is a clear indicator that he made a smart choice.
Moreau's choice to be a one-sport athlete has given him more than medals. Training for a single sport frees up more time for Moreau to be with his family, which is important since he became a father in June.
"I think of my family, my girlfriend, my three-month-old son," Moreau said. "He is a new thing I think about whenever I race."
Moreau's events in Rio are now finished, but he plans to continue competing through to Tokyo 2020.
With files from the Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium