A pioneer of the paralympic movement and the quebec and canadian cyclist Gary Longhi, will receive medical help to die Thursday morning in Montreal, the day of its 56e birthday.
Courageous, determined and resilient, the athlete out-of-standard will have marked a whole generation of athletes by his feats, but also by the trials he has overcome since his motorcycle accident in 1983.
His incredible strength of character in spite of a severe handicap managed to draw a tear to most people who have worked for the past thirty years.
A dozen friends have paid tribute on Tuesday in front of his home in the quartier Saint-Michel.
“My cousin, he is a hero hidden. He has always wanted to live a normal life, but he was not able to. He was always there for everyone, ” said his cousin, the artist Marco Calliari.
He was the first athlete in paracycling inducted into the hall of fame of the cycling in quebec.
Reached two cancers energy, including one terminal, he himself has chosen the date of his departure. The doctors gave him weeks to live at most. Proud competitor, Gary Longhi has traced his line of arrival.
“We do not believe, but he is at peace with it. It is a privilege to choose his date, ” explained Marco Calliari.
Gary Longhi was born in Montreal in 1964. Her life changed forever when he was only 19 years old.
After three months in a coma and a tracheotomy, he could do nothing except open his eyes and breathe without assistance, according to the testimony of his entourage.
Three years later, in Cuba, Gary has started to train in cycling. Miracle, he has taken part in four paralympic Games, starting with Seoul in 1988.
In 1992, in Barcelona, he won the silver medal in the time trial. In 1996, in Atlanta, he put his hand on the gold in the time trial and bronze in the race of 20 km.
He was also Canada’s flag bearer for the paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia, 2000. Health problems forced him to retire the following year.
The cycling was an outlet for him. “Sometimes, in society, I feel like an outsider. But on the bike, I’m normal. Nothing there seems. Everything seems more smooth. It is freedom for me “, one can read in a beautiful text written by the companion of his cousin, Christyna Pelletier.
Several times medalist, Gary Longhi’s has taken part in four paralympic Games from 1988 to 2000.
Speaking in public was sometimes a source of embarrassment, but his attitude was draining the ailments, she says. Despite his condition, he was the caregiver of her mother.
Gary Longhi is a member of the hall of fame of the quebec Federation of cycling sport (FQSC) and the hall of fame of canadian cycling. He is the first athlete in paracycling to be inducted.
“What distinguishes Gary, this is his kindness, his generosity and his incredible sense of humor. I don’t know anyone who has known Gary that has not been touched by him, ” said Louis Barbeau, director general of the FQSC.