Marie-Ève Croteau saw her dream of competing in the streets of her neighborhood die this weekend when a bacterium attacked her lungs a few weeks ago. But the experienced para-cyclist still has an excellent reason to rejoice: she is still very much alive.
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“It was serious, I really ran out of air, says Croteau, who participated in two Paralympic Games. It happened right after the Canadian Championships in Edmonton. At the hospital, they saved my life. »
“My larynx was damaged, she adds, so the doctors told me that it was impossible for me to take part in competitions until the end of the season. »
It is therefore from the sidelines that the Charlesbourg native will attend the UCI Para-cycling World Cup starting today, in which 300 athletes from 35 countries will take part. (see other text below).
“It really happens at home. I grew up at the Arpidrome, I live two minutes from here. It’s a dream I thought I would realize, but I’m going to push hard so that the event is back next year,” said the 43-year-old athlete.
She’s aiming for Paris
Trials, Croteau has gone through great ones throughout his life. Hit by a drunk driver when she was a teenager, she then had to fight the flesh-eating bacteria.
A concussion caused him to miss the London Games, then his adapted bikes were stolen a few days before those in Rio.
But the elite para-cyclist, double world champion in 2011, 2012 and 2013, refuses to let this new challenge sound the death knell of her career.
She has already resumed training in the gymnasium – at a moderate pace – and is waiting for her larynx to be fully restored to get back on her mounts, with the aim of the Paris Games in two years.
A bicycle as a gift
During this forced break, she is involved in the organization of this World Cup which will be held in her backyard.
Croteau also has another meeting in the coming days with pulmonologist Pierre-Alexis Lépine, from the University Institute of Cardiology and Pneumology of Quebec.
But this time, the appointment is not purely medical.
“I said to the doctor: you really saved my life. I bought him a very small time trial bike and I’m going to meet him to bring him. »
Thrills and life lessons
Spectators attending the UCI Para-cycling World Cup events can expect to experience thrills, but also to see great lessons in courage, underline the athletes who will take part.
Starting today and until Sunday, elite paracyclists will battle for victory in the streets of Charlesbourg. Several routes have been designed, notably near the Arpidrome or around the grounds of the Sisters of Charity.
Like a Championship
The 300 cyclists will be divided into four categories: tandem, hand bike, tricycle and regular bike, with or without adaptation.
Time trials, relays and road races are on the programme.
“With the number of athletes present, it’s the equivalent of a World Championship,” points out Louis Barbeau, director general of the Quebec Federation of Cycling Sports.
“The descent to Bourg-Royal, it’s going to roll! adds paracyclist Marie-Ève Croteau, who specializes in tricycles. In my opinion, the tandems will go for 90, 100 km/h. It’s impressive ! »
A beloved journey
Originally from Victoriaville, Charles Moreau will take part in the handcycling events.
He likes the Charlesbourg course, which comes to get his strength.
The asphalt of certain portions of the course was also redone after the visit of Mayor Bruno Marchand.
Bronze medalist on the road at the Paralympic Games in Rio, Moreau is obviously delighted to be competing in a race not far from his home.
Several of his relatives are expected on site, as is the mayor of Victoriaville, Antoine Tardif.
“Come see this! »
But the 40-year-old athlete also wants to send a message to the people of Quebec.
“Come and see this,” he said. People don’t suspect what we are capable of. It opens the eyes, this kind of event. Sometimes we go through hardships in our daily lives. It allows some people to motivate themselves to get through theirs. »
“It’s a life lesson,” adds Marie-Ève Croteau. To see a person who has no legs climbing a hill at 40 km/h is tough. It tells people to get out of their homes and get active, regardless of their disabilities or difficulties. »