After more than two decades of Para swimming, Canadian nine-time Paralympic champion Benoit Huot is announcing his retirement from the sport.
“It’s time to hang up my Speedo. It was the greatest of honours to represent our country and I’m proud to have been able to fulfil all my competitive dreams. Sport is the most amazing school of life and I had the privilege of being its student for the past 25 years,” Huot said.
Born with a malformation in his right leg, commonly called club foot, Huot started swimming at the age of eight. A member of the Canadian National Para Swimming Team since 1998, he is one of the most decorated Paralympic athletes with 20 medals won at five Paralympic Games.
“Benoit is one of the most celebrated Paralympians worldwide but he is so much more than all the accolades and achievements I could list. The reality is that Benoit has transcended sport and will leave a legacy of sportsmanship, courage and dignity,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi.
“He was and will always be an ambassador for swimming, the entire Paralympic movement, and an inspiration to anyone who feels they can’t do or achieve something. This is not just a retirement but a celebration of Benoit’s swimming career, a story which I believe has not reached its end, but is just entering a new chapter,” El-Awadi added.
Huot’s phenomenal career also included claiming 32 medals at six world championships.
“Throughout his long career as an athlete, Benoit embodied determination and the desire to win, but always carried himself with dignity and class. He was such an incredible ambassador for swimming, for Para sport and for Canada. To our friend, I wish you a happy retirement, to the champion, I say mission accomplished, and to the hero, I say carry on,” said Marc-André Fabien, president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
A member of the Order of Canada since 2016, Benoit was honoured last year as a Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec. He was also Canada’s flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and is a multiple recipient of the “Person with a Disability of the Year” King Clancy Award.
Working as a swimming commentator for ICI Radio-Canada Tele and as a contributor to Les Eclaireurs on ICI Premiere, Huot now intends to continue his mission with youth with disabilities through various initiatives including the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Foundation and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.