HELLO  |    the more you know about us, the happier we are
July 2019 back to news
 
OK
 
All Stars
10.03.12
Photo 1
Simon in front
born with less than 10 per cent normal hearing – and none when he’s racing into the wind – manage to compete with some of the world’s best young riders?
Simon in front
born with less than 10 per cent normal hearing – and none when he’s racing into the wind – manage to compete with some of the world’s best young riders?
The sixth sense
Simon Gagnon-Brassard, team Nativo Devinci | Don’t try to sneak up on Quebec cyclist Simon Gagnon-Brassard. The amateur sprinter may not be able to hear you, but he’s honing his other senses to Spiderman frequency. How else could the 20-year-old racer, born with less than 10 per cent normal hearing – and none when he’s racing into the wind – manage to compete with some of the world’s best young riders?

“My teammates help me. I can read lips or some logical signs. But mostly, I use my eyes. I don’t hear very well, but all my other senses are very good. I’ve developed them well,” Brassard said.

That can-do attitude is admired by many, including Luis Arévalo, his coach on Team Nativo Concept PG-Devinci. For a normal cyclist, it would be like racing with an iPod at full volume. But Brassard is a pure athlete. He has endured many obstacles and that has given him perseverance and determination.

Brassard, the Quebec elite champion in 2008, won’t disagree. “I’m the same or better than all the other cyclists who [can hear]. It’s not because of having a handicap that you are good. You just need to find a strategy or work harder.

”The Francophone racer, who is perfecting his English and calls The Saguenay, Quebec home, does both. He trains on his bike two to six hours a day, swims year-round and is motivated to stay with the fastest pack in any race. He has had some respectable results, including a second in the first stage of the July 2010 Tour de Quebec; and he hopes to build speed on the team’s international race circuit, which this year includes events in Taiwan, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Morocco.

As quad-busting as racing can be, doing it without the ability to hear other competitors, traffic, weather or team instructions would be nearly impossible for many other cyclists. Often, he lacks the needed noise information to advise him of a rider using his draft or jumping past him in the final moments of a sprint. It all affects how he reads the race, said Arévalo. So, Brassard relies on teammates to literally watch his back. Jean-Michel Lachance, 23, of Quebec City, said they’ve developed a system that works. “If I want him to go to the front or follow, I have hand signals he knows.” Lachance had never competed with a deaf cyclist before, and he doesn’t know of any others, but said there’s no problem at all. “Simon is very focused and if he wants something, he will try everything to get it.”

Brassard captured a silver medal at the Deaflympics, but rather than deaf, he prefers instead to be called hearing-challenged, mainly because he thinks it sounds more sporty. Nor does he mind people pointing out his disability. “All the time, I have to prove [myself], but I like that because it’s a challenge and I like to win all these challenges. I want to motivate other people who have a handicap.” Brassard grew up in a supportive, athletic family where the kids were encouraged to stay active and swim well, which he did competitively for a dozen years. A keen triathlete, he was forced to abandon running after an injury. That’s when he switched to cycling full time and found a fit.

There are high expectations for Brassard. “He’s more of a sprinter, but his age hasn’t given him proof of his best abilities yet,” Arévalo said. “One thing is certain, his power is amazing.” As for Brassard, he’s a young man with big plans who trains hard and lives to compete. He wants to be the boy from The Saguenay who couldn’t hear, but was able to do big things on the bike.

By Paula Todd
useful link(s)



subscribe to the devinci
newsletter and become
a privilege member


You TubeTwitterFacebook