Fate sometimes has a way of doing things right. About five years ago, Lee Leclerc decided to take a cooking class. While there, he happened to meet Catherine Dupont, the sister of Paralympic medallist Alexandre Dupont. That meeting completely changed his life.
“Catherine invited me to come watch her brother race in the Défi sportif AlterGo. I met Alexandre there and got hooked on the sport right away,” explained Leclerc, who had played soccer and done mixed martial arts training for several years.
At the time, Leclerc, who has cerebral palsy, was searching for a sport that would limit him as little as possible. “My legs are the most affected, so when I run, I either run slowly or crookedly or I fall over. My arms aren’t affected, so wheelchair para-athletics is the perfect sport for me.”
The following year, Leclerc, who hails from Saint-Paul de Joliette, found himself at the starting line of the Défi sportif AlterGo’s 10-kilometre event.
From that point on, his progression has been nothing short of spectacular. Eight months later, he competed in his first Canadian Championships. In 2018, he travelled to Spain for the Cerebral Palsy World Games, where he won gold medals in the 400m and 1500m events.
This year, Canada’s 1500m record holder participated in his first 10 km race of the season at the Chantal Petitclerc Classic. Although Leclerc has been focusing on shorter distances lately—when competing internationally, he specializes in the 100m and 800m distances in his category—he enjoyed revisiting the event where it all started for him. “It’s always a great personal challenge for me to come here,” he said. “I felt good despite the distance. In general, it went pretty well.”
Leclerc finished the race in fourth place. Alexandre Dupont, who first introduced Leclerc to the sport, won the event.
SIGHTS SET ON THE WORLDS AND ON TOKYO
Leclerc now has his sights set on the United Arab Emirates and Japan. He hopes to be part of the Canadian delegation that attends the World Championships in Dubai this fall and the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020.
“I’ll have to train hard, but that’s what I’m aiming for. If all goes as planned, it should work out,” he said.
If his journey leads him elsewhere, however, he won’t be disappointed.
“My goal is not to beat a lot of world records and win tons of gold medals, it’s to keep improving,” he emphasized. “If I make an impression along the way, that’s fine by me.”
His personal motto is to keep moving as fast as possible. “The faster I go, the better I’ll be!”