The 39th edition of the Défi Sportif AlterGo came to a close on Sunday with para-cycling races on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve racetrack and the wheelchair rugby, power soccer and wheelchair basketball finals. For chief executive officer Maxime Gagnon, the event was a resounding success.
“Approximately 4,000 athletes participated, even with the pandemic. It’s been a long time since a large-scale event like this has been held here. The athletes were happy to get back to competing. And the parents really enjoyed watching the younger ones play their sports,” he enthused.
Rugby in the spotlight
One of the major tournaments of this year’s Défi Sportif AlterGo was the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Championships. The country’s ten best teams fought for the national title for the first time since 2019.
“It was definitely one of the highlights of the week. The country’s top athletes attended, and it was a really enjoyable tournament,” said Gagnon.
The Alberta Roughnecks, led by the talented Zak Madell, succeeded in defending their title by beating the Ontario Thunder 61-57 in the big final. In the fight for bronze, Team Quebec bowed out to the Ontario Lightning 51-48.
In Division 2, Team British Columbia captured the top honours by defeating the Ontario Storm 41-38. Team Quebec won bronze.
As the opening day of the Défi Sportif AlterGo approached, the weather predictions were somewhat disquieting. However, in the end, the sun burst through and the athletes were able to compete in clement conditions all week long, especially at the para-cycling events on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve racetrack on Saturday and Sunday.
“We were blessed with great weather on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Both days were beautiful. The athletes really enjoyed the event. For some, it was their first major competition, and I think they all had a great weekend.”
As in 2019, Charles Moreau (MH3) won the Gary Longhi Challenge time trials and handcycling road race.
Marie-Ève Croteau (WT2) won the tricycle race, while Benoit Lalumière and Maximilien Moreau (MB) won the tandem time trials.
Boccia: A perfect example
As per usual, athletes of all levels attended the Défi Sportif AlterGo. The sport of boccia provided a perfect representation of the various skill levels, as school-level competitions took place alongside national tournaments.
“The boccia tournaments were very representative of what the Défi Sportif AlterGo stands for. Our emerging/elite concept was on display in boccia and it worked very well. It was great,” noted Gagnon.
Veteran player Marco Dispaltro was crowned BC4 champion just before leaving for Rio de Janeiro, where he finished 4th in the Brazil World Cup. Quebeckers Dave Richer (BC2), Marc-Antoine Goupil (BC5) and Nancy Caldwell (open) also won in their respective categories.
In the school tournaments, Jahmal Antoine-Alexandre won the elementary-level championship, while Jeanne Roy won the high school championship.
“It was a great atmosphere. We could see that the teachers had done a really good job of coaching the young athletes, who were well-trained and ready to compete at the Défi,” added Gagnon.
“It was also really nice to see spectators in the stands. The athletes’ pride in playing their sports before their friends and families was palpable.”
In closing, Gagnon would like to thank all those who made the 39th Défi Sportif AlterGo possible, especially the dedicated volunteers who worked hard both before and during the event.
“Thank you to our volunteers! Without them, the competitions would not take place. It wasn’t easy for them either, especially with the pandemic. They were indispensable,” he concluded.
The Défi sportif AlterGo will be back next year, from April 21 through April 23, 2023, to celebrate his 40th anniversary.