RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Meet Marie-Eve Croteau, quite possibly the most unlucky Paralympian on the planet.
When asked if she was always unlucky, she simply nodded and said, “Yes.”
Croteau suffered a concussion in training just before she was about to compete in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Even though she made the trip across the Atlantic, she could not wheel up to the starting line.
This year, only weeks before the 2016 Games in Rio, the biggest sporting event on the calendar, misfortune struck again.
When asked for details, she laughed – but it wasn’t one of happiness.
“Basically someone went into my garage and stole my bikes,” said Croteau through Brigitte Lagore, Canadian Paracycling media attaché, who was translating from French. “Both bikes were stolen but only one was retrieved.
“Thankfully, (manufacturer) Garneau rebuilt the bike in time for the Rio Games and I used this for my two races.”
The 37-year old said she tried not to let the bad luck faze her and instead used the incident as fuel.
“It has not been an easy road for the last four years,” Croteau said. “But I overcame everything and I am back even stronger.”
The Quebec City native lost the use of both legs in 2010 due to a virus. After a period of rehabilitation, she turned to competitive cycling and has several world titles to her name.
She said she was delighted to be able to complete both of her races in Rio.
“My first goal was to participate in the (Paralympic) Games,” Croteau said.
“The second goal was to roll through and complete all the races,” Croteau said. “The third one was to get the result.”
Croteau placed sixth in a time trial Wednesday before exceeding her expectations with a fourth-place finish Friday in the women’s 30km road race (t1-t2.)
“I finished fourth, but only 51 seconds behind first,” she said after completing the breezy, oceanside course in the Pontal neighbourhood. “I was very happy about that.”
Her sights are now set on the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
“That is my plan,” she said.