Imagen
35419-Cindy Ouellet photo

Cindy Ouellet

Nordic Skiing

Biography

Impairment information

Origin of Impairment
Acquired

Further personal information

Occupation
Athlete, Public Speaker
Languages
English, French

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up wheelchair basketball at age 16 in Quebec, Canada.
Why this sport?
She was introduced to the sport by her physiotherapist. ''I was really missing sport. It was a huge part of my life growing up. I don't like doing sport just for fun, I want to compete. So I went to basketball practice and got into a chair and really fell in love with the sport. There was a lot of contact and it was super fast. I've played basketball ever since.''
Club / Team
Gladiateurs Laval: Canada
Name of coach
Marc Antoine Ducharme [national], CAN
Preferred position / style / stance / technique
Point guard

International debut

Year
2007
Competing for
Canada
Location
Rio de Janeiro, BRA

General interest

Nicknames
Seven (Athlete, 20 Jul 2016)
Hero / Idol
Her mother. (Athlete, 20 Jul 2016)
Injuries
During her career she has dislocated both shoulders and broken her hand, fingers and skull. (thestar.com, 21 May 2012)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Carpe diem." (Athlete, 20 Jul 2016)
Awards and honours
She was awarded the Female Athlete of the Year award in 2012, 2016, 2017, and 2018 by Wheelchair Basketball Canada. (paralympic.ca, 2017; wheelchairbasketball.ca, 31 Dec 2019)

She was named the Most Valuable Player at Canadian National Wheelchair Basketball Championships in 2011, 2013, and 2016. (wheelchairbasketball.ca, 04 Nov 2011; wheelchairbasketball.ca, 31 Dec 2019)

In 2011 she was named to the All-Star team at the U25 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in St. Catharines, ON, Canada. (wheelchairbasketball.ca, 04 Nov 2011)

In 2007 she was named Junior Athlete of the Year by Wheelchair Basketball Canada. (wheelchairbasketball.ca, 04 Nov 2011)
Other sports
She played football at provincial level prior to her cancer diagnosis. She played wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games in 2008, 2012 and 2016. She won silver medals in the sport at the Parapan American Games in 2007, 2011 and 2015. She also competed in Para Nordic skiing at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. (paralympic.ca, 01 Jan 2020; wheelchairbasketball.ca, 31 Dec 2019)
Ambitions
To win a medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo and to compete in Para Nordic skiing at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. (montrealgazette.com, 24 Aug 2017; paralympic.org, 24 Jun 2020)
Impairment
She was diagnosed with bone cancer in her left hip at age 12. She suffered nerve damage from the chemotherapy treatment she received. (NPC Media Guide, 2018; chatelaine.com, 09 Jul 2012)
Other information
MULTI-SPORT ATHLETE
As well as aiming to compete in wheelchair basketball at the postponed 2020 Paralympic Games, she also hopes to compete in Para Nordic skiing at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. "We're going to have to make some adjustments [to my schedule]. [In] cross-country skiing, I'm still brand new. It was in my plans to start my preparation [for Beijing] after Tokyo. For sure I will have to focus even more on basketball, and less on cross-country skiing. If there's just one year between the two Games, it may be hard for me to qualify but I'd still like to try my luck. I'm going to try to qualify for the Games, do some World Cups [in 2021] and we'll see what happens with that." (journaldemontreal.com, 17 May 2020; ici.radio-canada.ca, 13 Apr 2020)

COMIC BOOK STAR
In 2020 she was depicted in a comic book series entitled 'The Adventures of Cindy', which tells her story of overcoming bullying and depression in school to become a Paralympic athlete. "Starting high school is always an important step in a child's life. When I went back to high school, I had no hair, I was finishing my chemo. The kids were laughing at me. I was on crutches at the time, I didn't have a wheelchair yet. The kids were kicking my crutches so I would fall to the ground. It was a difficult time, because I didn't understand why. I've had cancer before, so why, on top of that, get bullied after getting through it all? These have been difficult stages in my life, but I think it has made me stronger. I grew up reading comics, but it's funny to see myself as a superhero now. It's mostly for a good cause. We, the top athletes, are always seen as superheroes but we have our ups and downs and it's also important to talk about the lows I've had and how I've overcome them. I got help, I went to get help, from my family or from organisations like Sport'Aide. This is important because it is often said that going for help is for the weak. But in fact, those who go for help are for me the strongest people." (ici.radio-canada.ca, 16 Nov 2020)

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS
She admits that during the COVID-19 pandemic she struggled mentally with the isolation. She works closely with the charity Sport'Aide and says she is now trying to help other athletes address their own mental health problems. "I couldn't play sports anymore, I was at home confined and I couldn't see my team. I had anxiety and I fell into depression. So I thought I had to go to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Someone who was going to be able to help me. I'm talking about it, because I don't think it's a weakness, but rather a strength to get help. Unfortunately, there are too many athletes waiting for the rope to be stretched to the limit. Sometimes the rope breaks and you can't go back." (cimtchau.ca, 13 Jan 2021; ici.radio-canada.ca, 13 Apr 2020)

FURTHER EDUCATION
She studied for a PhD in biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA, United States of America. Her ambition is to do research for prostheses and work in neuromuscular technology and nanotechnology. (montrealgazette.com, 24 Aug 2017; plus.lapresse.ca, 22 Feb 2017; paralympic.ca, 13 Aug 2019; Facebook profile, 19 Mar 2021)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games (Pyeongchang, South Korea)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 12km Sitting Final 2018-03-11 18
Women's 1.1km Sprint Sitting Final 2018-03-14 17
Women's 5km Sitting Final 2018-03-17 17