April 30 - Canadian Paralympian Colette Bourgonje has announced her retirement from international competition following a 24-year career that spanned seven Winter and three Summer Paralympic Games.
The 52-year-old is the only athlete to have competed in all seven Winter Paralympic Games since Albertville 1992 and has won three silver and three bronze medals in Nordic skiing events in that time, including becoming the first Canadian to win a Paralympic medal on home soil when she took silver in the women's 10 kilometre sit-ski race at Vancouver 2010.
Bourgonje, who was an accomplished able-bodied Nordic skier before being struck by a car in 1980 which left her paralysed, also represented Canada in wheelchair racing at the Summer Games in Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.
She won 100 metre and 800m bronze in Barcelona and followed that up with 100m and 200m bronze in Atlanta.
She was also awarded the prestigious Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award - a solid gold medal that is presented to an individual who conquers adversities through the pursuit of excellence in sport.
"On behalf of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, a heartfelt thank you to Colette for her contributions to Paralympic sport and our congratulations on an unparalleled career," said Karen O'Neill, chief executive of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
"Colette has been a great leader on the national Para-Nordic team through her accomplishments and experience.
"We wish her well in retirement."
In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Bourgonje is a dedicated mentor to the next generation of athletes and was instrumental in discovering and inspiring cross-country skier Brittany Hudak, who competed at Sochi 2014 alongside Bourgonje.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
February 2014: Canada announces 54-strong squad for Sochi 2014 Paralympics
February 2014: Canadian Paralympic stars feature in new documentary series for Sochi 2014