At the Claude-Robillard Sports Complex, Friday, May 3 was the final day of the school component events, as well as the day of the elementary-level swimming competitions.

Alexandre Doyon competed in the 25m and 50m freestyle events. He also participated in the track and field events earlier this week. For the past two months, he has been training twice a week at the Marie-Enfant rehabilitation centre. Which is a good thing, according to his mother, since “he never stops moving at home. It’s a great way for him to channel his energy, of which he has a lot.”

Fortunately, in addition to training with his centre, Alexandre also played para hockey with the Montreal Greys team, who won the gold medal in the junior tournament last weekend.


A perfect event

Alexandre’s family is taking part in the Défi Sportif AlterGo for the second time this year, and his parents Marie-Andrée Clairmont and Jean-Philippe Doyon could not be more pleased with the event.

“It’s amazing. The atmosphere is wonderful,” said Marie-Andrée. “Also, we know several of the kids who are participating, which is great. And it gives us parents the chance to see each other again.”

According to Jean-Philippe, the Défi Sportif AlterGo is like their own annual Olympic Games. Not all sports are accessible to young people with physical disabilities, like his son. But the Défi Sportif AlterGo is perfectly adapted to their needs, which really makes a difference in the lives of Alexandre and his friends.

For one thing, being able to participate in different sports with his centre allows Alexandre to develop new skills. “It’s like physiotherapy, only it’s fun. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists often encourage children to move, to develop their skills and their muscles. And with this [event], it helps them recover and develop all sorts of good lifestyle habits.”

“When we come here, we know our kids are going to have an amazing time. At home, we’re super proud. Alexandre really looks forward to it. He now has a medal collection. For us, it’s a chance to break the routine and attend a really fun event,” continued Jean-Philippe. “It’s really a great event. We’d like to thank all the volunteers, the organization, everyone who is here for our kids. We really appreciate it. We don’t often get the chance to thank everybody.”


A shared passion for para hockey

Jean-Philippe also coaches his son’s para hockey team. Alexandre has been playing the sport for 3 years now. Jean-Philippe’s love for para hockey, and for his son’s team, is palpable, and they now travel to Ontario and even the United States to take part in competitions.

“Seeing the chemistry that has developed between all those young people is awesome. […] They don’t look for differences. On the ice, they’re all equal. Everyone wants to win, and everyone wants to have fun,” he explained.

The team’s main objectives are to have fun, to persevere and not give up, and to work on  positions and team play. According to Jean-Philippe, the results are visible. “By focusing just on those three elements, the team has gotten really good. When we play teams from other cities, we’re hard to stop, which makes it even more fun.”

Although he was familiar with para hockey before his son began to play, Jean-Philippe had never imagined how technical the sport was. “It’s really hard to keep your balance on the sledge. You build all sorts of new muscles because you have to move in ways your body is not used to moving.”

In fact, a kids vs. parents match ended 15-2 in favour of the youngsters, proving that it is not an easy sport, even for former hockey players who are confident in their abilities. “They really kicked our butts, if I can use that expression. But we had a great time, and it allowed us, the parents, to really grasp how difficult it is.”

Jean-Philippe is very happy to share the experience of para hockey with his son, and to see his boy give 100%. But more than anything, he loves seeing the para hockey group grow and develop together, both within the sport and in life in general. “The group plays para hockey together on the ice, but once they’re back home, they also play online games together. They’re all very close. It’s a group of kids who live far away from each other, but who make a great team. Para hockey is something they’ll be able to keep playing all their lives. When they’re 40 years old, they’ll still be able to play together. My goal is to make sure these kids can stay together for a long time.”

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