An athlete who won a gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Summer Paralympic Games has died.
Claude Francoise Poumerol, 63, died at Powell River General Hospital on November 4. Wearing a prosthesis on her left leg, Poumerol set a world record in the 100-metre sprint when she won gold in the Seoul Paralympics, a record that stood for six years. She also won a silver medal in the 200-metre event at the same games.
Poumerol hadn’t always been a paralympian. Ten days before leaving for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, Poumerol, then a 15-year-old French sprinter, was seriously injured in an automobile incident that claimed her father’s life. Poumerol spent six months in a coma, endured years of surgery and ultimately underwent a partial leg amputation.
Poumerol was 40 and a Canadian citizen when she competed in the Seoul games. She moved to Powell River in 2009. She was also involved in other initiatives throughout her life, including charitable work in Honduras. She was a BC champion of Toastmasters International and a motivational speaker.
MP John Weston, who represents West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, said a group of Powell River residents had nominated Poumerol to receive the Order of Canada. “I’m sorry she’s gone,” said Weston. “In life, you meet these understated people who do wonderful things. She was one of them.”
Weston said he met Poumerol during the Olympic Torch Relay in Powell River prior to the 2010 Winter Games. He said he was impressed and intrigued by her commitment to helping people in Honduras. “She’d been attacked there and hurt, yet she continued to help people, especially girls, there,” he said. “She just seemed like somebody who really inspired others and had done great things as a paralympian.”
A celebration of life will be held from 2 to 4 pm on Friday, November 18 at Cranberry Seniors’ Centre, 6792 Cranberry Street.