#26: Doug Lyons

written by Donald Royer

A man of multiple talents, Douglas “Doug” Lyons was born in Valleyfield, Quebec and joined the Drummondville Police Service in 1961. An imposing man, Doug demonstrated, from a young age, a marked interest for not only sport, but also an interest for painting, a hobby he would often do with his father.

In 1970, while responding to a call in connection with an armed robbery, his life was completely turned upside down. As the first to arrive at the scene of the crime, he found himself face to face with five heavily armed robbers, one of whom immediately fired a submachine gun toward Doug, striking him with two bullets. One of these bullets, unfortunately, struck his spinal cord paralyzing Doug from the waist down and forcing him to use a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.

“That event changed my life forever” confides the ex-police officer.

After a long period of rehabilitation, Doug gradually became interested in wheelchair sports after receiving an invitation from the Quebec Federation of Recreation and Sports for the Disabled. Little did he know, at the time, this invitation would mark the beginning of a very successful athletic career in powerlifting and shot put.

Four years later, Doug would go on to participate in his first Canada Games in 1974, justly achieving much success and glory for his dominant performances. He would be elected athlete of the year in 1975 at the Gala Sport Québec, a first for a wheelchair athlete.

His level of success would be no different on the international stage. Doug would win back-to-back Paralympic gold medals in shot put (1976 and 1980), as well as a bronze medal in the discus throw at the 1976 Toronto Paralympics.

He would also set a shot put world record in the 80’s, with a 9.80 meter roll. To this day, this record has not been beaten by any other Canadian throwers.

Aside from his individual achievements, Doug’s impact on sport was also due in part to him being quite the handyman. In his mechanical workshop in Drummondville, Doug made numerous modifications to wheelchair racing chairs that would make them significantly more efficient. He would also design training rollers, that would allow athletes to train during the winter months and modified bodybuilding machines, making them more accessible to athletes with disabilities.  

For his contributions to sport, Doug was elected to the Parasports Québec Hall of Fame in 2005.

Now retired, Doug has been living in Richmond, Quebec for about fifteen years. He leads a peaceful life, devoting a good part of his time to his favorite hobby is painting.