Para Nordic skiing, Para athletics
Prince Albert, SK
Colette Bourgonje competed in seven Winter Paralympic Games (Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Torino, Vancouver, Sochi) and three Summer Paralympic Games (Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney). In April 2014, Bourgonje announced her retirement from competition after a brilliant career which concluded a month earlier at the Paralympic Games in Sochi.
In the Summer Games, as a wheelchair racer, she won two bronze medals in Barcelona and Atlanta. In sit-skiing, she was a double Paralympic medallist in 1998, 2006 and 2010.
At the Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver 2010, Bourgonje won silver and bronze medals in cross country skiing. She put her name in the history books as the first-ever Canadian to win a Paralympic medal on home snow after she claimed the silver in the women's 10-kilometre sit-ski race. At the Closing Ceremony for Vancouver 2010, she received the prestigious Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals who conquer adversities through the pursuit of excellence in sport.
Bourgonje competed nationally in cross country skiing before she was struck by a car in 1980 which left her a paraplegic. After a transition period, she pursued her sports career and education and was the first graduate of the University of Saskatchewan’s physical education department who used a wheelchair. She acquired a teaching certificate and works as an elementary school teacher.
She has been nominated four times for Saskatchewan’s female athlete of the year and won in 2010. Bourgonje was inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Saskatoon Hall of Fame in 1998. In 1996 she was named Saskatoon Athlete of the Year, the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiing's [CADS] Nordic Athlete of the Year and was also awarded the Breakthrough Award by the Canadian Association for Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity [CAAWS].
Off the race course, Bourgonje is an advocate of active and an ambassador of In Motion, Saskatchewan’s movement to increase physical activity. “I would tell someone if they want to get the most out of life and really start living, they should try doing something physical - even if it is just a 15 minute walk once a day. Your mind, body and spirit are all enhanced when you exercise.”