Distinguished athlete, Gabriel Martel, is set to compete in the Canadian qualifiers for the Paralympic Games, which will take place from Tuesday, August 24th , 2021 to Sunday, September 5th  in Tokyo, Japan.

The Saint-Lazare resident is a para-swimmer who lives with a visual impairment. Considered among the world’s elite in his discipline, the 19-year-old has been invited to compete in the Canadian qualifiers to be held May 24-28, in Toronto.

As a child, Gabriel Martel took swimming lessons. However, he left this discipline to finally return to it 4 years ago. From then on, due to his visual impairment, his mother had to find a trainer.

“I did some research on the internet and contacted Claude Picard. He agreed to assess Gabriel. We were all stunned. Gabriel was considered a national level swimmer. For 4 years, he has continued to improve. His results speak for themselves”, says his mother Mélanie Dadelsi.

Photo Mélanie Nabelsi

Sometimes a mother’s opinion can be incorrect when talking about her child. But Gabriel’s results confirm Mrs. Dadelsi’s claims. The para-swimmer holds 20 Canadian swimming records. He also won several medals in different competitions; including the Quebec Games in Thetford Mines in 2018, the Coupe du Québec, the Eastern Canadian Championships and the Canadian Swimming Championships in 2019. In training, he even beats swimmers who have no disabilities.

Besides his coach, Gabriel constantly needs two people whose job it is to warn him when he comes to the end of the pool so that he is prepared for every turn. The two have a pole and touch Gabriel’s back to remind him that he needs to make a turn.

Pandemic forces…

COVID-19 has turned Gabriel’s training upside down. As he is a member of the Beaconsfield Bluefins Swimming Club, but is a resident of Saint-Lazare, he did not have access to the pool. It was reserved for residents.

“We were creative. We bought a swimming pool which we installed in the garage of Gabriel’s grandparents. We installed a water heater and this is how our son was able to continue swimming all winter.”

Financial aspect

Gabriel Martel can count on the support of his parents to assist with the costs of his competitions. However, qualifications are really starting to demand a significant financial contribution. After the Paralympic qualifiers in Toronto next May, the Secondary 5 student at École Jacques-Ouellet, in Longueuil, is expected in Berlin, Germany next June to receive his international classification.

In order to allow Gabriel to pursue his goal, his mother created a fundraising campaign. Interested parties can contribute as they wish by going to: https://www.gofundme.com/ and entering Gabriel Martel in the search tab.

Steve Sauvé

Steve Sauvé

Journaliste

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