A plethora of world-class wheelchair racing stars from Canada have dominated the Paralympic Games at times over the last two decades. Everyone knows the historic run of Chantal Petitclerc and her habit for striking gold in the 1990s and 2000s. Another big name is the more recent coming out party of Brent Lakatos and his trio of silver medals from the London 2012 Games. Another highly successful Canadian who took charge in the racing category was Richard Reelie.
Reelie made his Paralympic debut at the 1988 Games in Séoul, but he did not participate in the sport he is most commonly known for. He started in the athletics family with competitions in shot put, javelin, and discus. The native of Saskatoon’s first Games went better than anyone could have expected and with a clean sweep of his events, he came home from Korea with a trio of gold medals.
Despite his unmatched success four years earlier, Reelie began a new avenue of competition in 1992 in Barcelona. Not only did he possess the power to run the table in the three throwing events, but he had the quickness, agility, and pure speed to enter the world of wheelchair racing in the T52 category. Once again, Reelie put on an exceptional performance. He won gold medals in the mens 800-metre and 400-metre races and added a couple of silver medals in the 200-metre and 1500-metre events — another testament to his versatility.
Reelie would go on to participate in three more Paralympic Games, making it a remarkable grand total of five summer classics. He did not medal in his three events in Atlants in 1996 or in Athens in 2004, but added to his legacy in between in Sydney.
He raced to a silver in the 800-metre and bronze in the 5000-metre in Australia to get a final taste of the podium.
Reelie’s career path was anything but ordinary, but what he was able to accomplish in such a wide variety of distances and events cements him as one of the most talented and successful Paralympians in Canadian history.
Photo Credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee