Pierre Mainville is an experienced athlete, in more ways than one.
The 48-year-old Quebec native has been competing in wheelchair fencing for the past 20 years, after becoming a paraplegic as the result of being an innocent bystander in a shooting incident in 2001.
Those two decades of competition nearly matches the age of his Canadian Paralympic teammate Ryan Rousell, aged 24.
While it may seem like a quick decision to get into fencing only six months after becoming a parapalegic, the sport was not even Mainville’s first choice.
The right-hander originally started out playing team sports such as wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey, but desired more of a sense of control over the results, which drew him to the only individual contact sport: fencing.
Known as “The Perfectionist”, Mainville has been demonstrating his precision, skill and intelligence now for the better part of two decades, the highlight of which was a 2010 bronze medallist in Men’s Épée, Canada’s first world championship medallist in wheelchair fencing.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games mark the fourth and final Games for the father of two, one that is bittersweet due to not being able to have family members in attendance due to COVID protocols.
“It’s kind of nostalgic,” said Mainville, after not advancing to the Round of 16 in the Men’s Épée. “Usually my family comes to the Paralympics, but they couldn’t come (to Tokyo) because of COVID. I had a lot of emotion about that. It’s my last Games, so I would have loved to have my family here for that.”
The Paralympics have given Mainville the opportunity to travel far away from his hometown of St-Colomban, from Beijing, to London, to Rio de Janeiro, and finally to Tokyo, which is something he does not take for granted.
“Time passes so fast, even more so when you have children,” Mainville told the National Post during the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. “It’s already been 15 years (since the shooting). I cannot say I am sad about what happened. I’m a happy guy now. I have a family. I travel around the world.”