Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Swimmer Benoit Huot Announces Retirement, Won 20 Paralympic Medals over Career

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Swimmer Benoit Huot Announces Retirement, Won 20 Paralympic Medals over Career

Article excerpt

20-time Paralympic medallist Huot retires

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Canadian swimmer Benoit Huot earned a boatload of medals over a two-decade career that included podium appearances at five straight Paralympic Games and at countless international meets.

Reminiscing about his achievements brings a smile to Huot's face. Each result has a story.

There were his victories in Sydney as a teenager. His domination in Athens four years later. Winning gold in London after coming up short as a favourite in Beijing. One last Paralympic bronze in Rio.

All excellent achievements, but all come behind the Order of Canada insignia he received two years ago.

"I think it's the medal that makes me the most proud," Huot said. "Obviously the career is part of it. But what makes me the most proud today is the evolution of the movement."

Huot, who announced his retirement Tuesday in Montreal, started swimming competitively at age 10.

He was winning major titles four years later, taking gold in the 1,500-metre open water race at the 1998 world championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Huot, whose disability is a club foot, raced in the S10 classification. He made an impressive Paralympic debut in 2000 with three gold and three silver medals.

The Paralympic scene was much different back then. Huot, from Longueuil, Que., recalled his first gold medal generating a single sentence mention in a major Montreal newspaper.

"It was frustration," Huot recalled. "At that time when I was competing, I didn't realize what the Games were all about. But coming back (home), you're like, 'Wait, why did no one talk about it? Why did no one recognize what we do?'

"It was better in Athens, better in Beijing, better in London, better in Rio and it's going to be even better in Tokyo. So we saw the evolution."

There are more disciplines and events now, television is on board, spectators are packing venues and media interest has picked up. …

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