On paper, Marylou Martineau could be just about any other teenage girl. She loves reading, plays sport, is finishing high school and has dreams of being a medical secretary or journalist when she graduates.
The thing that makes 18-year old Marylou truly remarkable is that she has represented her country in her chosen sport, Boccia, and she has Cerebral Palsy.
Marylou’s Cerebral Palsy mostly affects her left side and she has been in a wheelchair since she was three-years old. She can walk with the help of a walker, but it requires support.
But this has been no barrier for the determined young lady who is working towards further representing Canada in Boccia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
“I discovered Boccia at the Madeleine-Bergeron school and I thought it looked interesting. It made me want to try it,” says Marylou.
That was in 2009. Since then, she’s travelled the world with the sport to represent her country.
“I have no regret having trialled the sport,” she says
“I have not had any difficulty. We always find solutions, or we adapt. I am lucky and very proud to be able to represent my country.
“I am working hard to keep my place on Team Canada and to be able to participate in my second Paralymics in Tokyo 2020,” says Marylou.
So, what does it take to represent your country on this level?
Marylou spends 20-hours a week training with her athletic assistant – who also happens to be her mother, Josee – in a purpose-built room she rents all year round.
Originally, she remained studying at the Madeleine-Bergeron school in a regular program that was adapted to support her Boccia training and competitions.
In August 2018, Marylou moved to a school for adults that would enable her to have even more training hours and a schedule that could further adapt to her needs.
“My father and mother are very involved with Boccia,” says Marylou.
“My father referees in provincial tournaments and he is the coach of the local team in Quebec City.
“My mother has been my sports assistant since my beginning. She travels with me and I am very proud of her.
“Everyone around me is very proud of me and I thank them very much for their encouragement.
“Boccia is a family thing for us,” she says.
What advice does Marylou have for other aspiring young sports people with CP?
“First of all, I would tell them to try it out like I did,” Marylou says.
“Always persevere because it pays off. Maybe one day we’ll meet on a boccia field somewhere in the world.”