Canadian Paralympic swimming star Benoit Huot of Montreal has received replacements for the Paralympic and Commonwealth Games medals that were stolen from his home, at a special ceremony held at Ecole Joseph Charbonneau, with students from Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Centre on Monday (10 March).
The ceremony hosted by Paralympic champion wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc (Canada's Chef de Mission for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games) was an opportunity to emphasise the hard work that athletes like Huot put into their sport careers in order to reach the top. Just prior to officially receiving the replacement medals, Huot's brilliant career, which includes nine Paralympic titles, was shown to the students.
"I was touched by the public's support last summer," said Huot. "I realised my medals meant a lot to them. It shows they are proud of sporting achievements and the hard work and perseverance it represents. I'm very pleased to receive these medals once again. To receive them from kids who have a disability is also very important for me. I hope I can inspire them to pursue their dreams despite their challenges."
The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) and Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC) took the necessary steps to have the medals replaced.
"We work with athletes consistently including big sports events," said Gaétan Tardif, the CPC's President. "We know what these medals represent for them, their support team and the public. We know those medals can never replace the originals. These reproductions still symbolise the work, fulfilment, integrity, confidence as well as the pursuit of excellence of Paralympic athletes. This unfortunate episode showed how important medals are for athletes. It's an honour to present them to Benoit today."
"It's more than just medals,'' added Richard Powers, President, Commonwealth Games Canada. "To athletes like Benoit it's a symbol of personal sacrifice and achieving excellence. To Canadians, especially youth, it's a symbol of national pride, inspiration and being the best in the world. On behalf of the Commonwealth Games Federation I am pleased to replace the medals that were taken away from Ben and all Canadians."
This past summer Huot's house was robbed and among the missing items were seven medals. Five of these medals were:
-Bronze | 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games
- Bronze | 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games
- Silver | 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games
- Gold | 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games
- Gold | 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games
Huot, who competes in men’s S10, is currently preparing for the Parapan American Games scheduled for 7-15 August in Toronto. He is committed to continue his career up to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.