The Will to Win
Paralympic archer Lyne Tremblay, of Magog, was back at home last week and ‘on vacation’ after returning from the 2011 Parapan American Games where she qualified for the London Paralympic Games in 2012. She had been continu-
ally training and competing for fourteen months to both prepare and qualify for that competition so the vacation, a two week respite from her fifty hours of weekly training, a quiet time to do simple things like Christmas decorating, making preserves, and getting her hair done, was both needed and deserved.
“We were never treated so great as athletes as we were in Mexico at the Games. Often the disabled athletes are treated like the ‘leftovers’ but in Mexico the adaptations were incredible, the volunteers were great, the site was beautiful. Those Games were very important to me because it was my last chance to be selected for the London Games,” commented Ms. Tremblay about her recent experience.
While at the Parapan Games, which ran from November 12th to the 20th, Lyne was asked to participate in a Remembrance Day Ceremony organized by the Canadian Government for the Canadian athletes. “It was a nice honour. They chose two athletes, one French and one English, who represented combativeness and resiliency,” she explained.
They certainly chose wisely; when it comes to those two qualities, Lyne Tremblay has them in spades. A professional athlete all her life, having been a member of the Canadian National Athletics Team, the French National Cycling Team, an ocean kayaker and an Ironman competitor, in mid-life Lyne both lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly and was diagnosed with a severe, degenerative disease. Her strength of character had already been proven, years earlier at the age of seventeen, when she was the youngest female on record to fly an air- plane solo from Montreal to Florida. And it would prove itself again as Lyne readjusted the life around her in response to her losses.
“I was diagnosed in 1994 with reflex sympathetic dystrophy. I had the severe form which was chronic and progressive,” said Lyne whole legs are now paralyzed as a result of the illness. “My instinct told me to keep busy until I could find new ‘reference points’ in my life. I was lucky that I had a passion that I could cling to,” she added.
Just a few years later she began competing in para-alpine skiing, winning numerous medals as a member of the Quebec Team, the Canadian National Team, and the French National Ski Team. Since 2007, Ms. Tremblay has been focusing on archery, first taking it up to improve her skiing abilities. She is now a Canadian Champion in archery and ranked 21st in the world.
Most people afflicted with the severe form of reflex sympathetic dystrophy lose both physical and mental capacities; Ms. Tremblay is an ‘exceptional’ exception. “The doctors think that because I’m hooked on sports, it has really helped. I’m careful about what I eat and my meditation and my physical training, we believe, has made a big difference.”
Six days a week, Lyne’s rigorous daily training schedule includes two hours of body-building and cardiovascular work, meditating, shooting three hundred arrows at a target, and visualization techniques. “I need to shoot more but my body can’t handle it. So I shoot arrows mentally, too. I start at 7:00 am and finish around 6:00 pm. At night I just watch television because I have no energy left!” Intensive training is also done in South Korea twice a year with her coach, Kim Hyang Tak.
Lyne is actually on an intensive search for a new training location where she can practice archery indoors this winter; a crucial element to her success at the upcoming Paralympic Games in London next year. “I’m looking for any kind of big room, a warehouse or a gymnasium. It could be anything.” Anyone with a large space to offer this athlete can reach her at email@example.com.
Dr. Linda Gagnon, also of Magog, has been working with Lyne for about ten years, both as a doctor and as a coach, and accompanied her to Mexico. “Lyne is joyful, has a fighting spirit. She is always ‘there’, always ready. She’s a role model for young athletes. And she accepts criticism very well because she wants to win!” commented Dr. Gagnon.
Originally from Saguenay, Ms. Tremblay moved to the Townships in 1992 with her late husband. “It was by chance that we discovered this region, coming here for employment reasons. Estrie is the most beautiful area of Quebec. I want to live and die here.”
Archer Lyne Tremblay, from Magog, gets ready to hit her target 70 metres away during the Parapan Games held in Mexico earlier this month.
Lyne Tremblay relaxing between competitions in Mexico.