May 01, 2016 (Montreal, Que.) – For many athletes, para-cyclist Marie-Claude Molnar among them, the Défi sportif AlterGo is where it all started. The tournament, held at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, is a not-to-be-missed annual event, not only because it offers participants an opportunity to shine and to compete at home, but also because it brings back so many magical memories.
“This year is the eighth time I’ve competed in the Défi,” said Molnar. ”The Défi sportif AlterGo has always had a special place in my career as a whole, and that is especially true now, during a Paralympic Year. Today’s time trials were my first race of the season, and I’m really happy with my performance. Things sure are looking good!” The C4 para-cyclist ranked third in the mixed individual time trials, all classes considered. Canadian Michael Sametz (C3) was the first to cross the finish line, in 23:16.76, while Nicole Clermont (C5) came in second, at 26:07.82. The handbiking honours went to Charles Moreau (H3, 18:37.59), who beat his fierce rival, Rico Morneau (H3) by nearly 50 seconds. The two are competing for a spot in the national 2016 Paralympic team. In third, came Canadian Alex Hyndman, with a time of 19:46.81.
Quebecker Marie-Ève Croteau ranked third in the tricycling competition, in which the two tandems made up of athletes from Quebec also delivered outstanding performances. Daniel Chalifour and pilot Jean-Michel Lachance came in second (26:02.58), while Robbi Weldon and pilot Audrey Lemieux finished third (29:34.57). “It’s so nice to have people come out here to cheer for us,” said Marie-Claude Molnar. “I love the atmosphere at this event. We hardly ever get to compete at home, and it feels amazing.”
Sarah White Shares the Podium with an Idol
In the morning, the circuit was home to a 10-kilometer wheelchair race. The women’s podium had a Quebecker in every step. Montrealer Sarah White (T53, 29:43.05) snatched the bronze medal, while one of her mentors, Diane Roy (T54, 24:52.9), took home the gold. Ilana Dupont (T53, 28:42.9) racked up the silver. “I’ll never forget my first time at the Défi sportif AlterGo,” said White, who is vying to get her name on a ticket to the Rio Paralympic Games. “That’s when I met Chantal Petitclerc and Diane Roy, two people who have helped me immensely. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be today.”White is aware that competition is going to be tough, but hopes to make her longtime dream come true. “I have dreamed of making it to the Paralympic Games since I took up the sport,” she said. “There are so many great Canadians, and so few places on the team, but I will give all I’ve got in the coming competitions. After that, the decision is not in my hands.”
Meanwhile, on the men’s side, Quebecker Alexandre Dupont (T54) triumphed with a time of 22:00.8, after leading the race, unrivalled, since the very beginning. Long distance specialist Michel Filteau (T54, 22:30.1) came away with the silver, and the bronze went to Sherbrooke’s Basile Soulama (T54, 25:38.8).
Dupont is confident in his chances to go to Brazil next September. “I’m in a good position, having already landed a spot on the relay team. Now I have to prove my worth in the individual races, but I believe I’m going to make it. I am really happy with my race today.”