July 24, 2016 - 6:30 PM
MONTREAL - A paralympic cyclist whose two racing bicycles were stolen in Quebec City just weeks before the Rio Olympics said on Sunday she's overwhelmed by the support she's received.
Marie-Eve Croteau added that police believe they may have found one of the two bicycles, but she won't be able to confirm it's hers until Monday.
The 37-year-old athlete said she thought her trip to Rio was in doubt after she discovered the theft on Friday.
"The breath just went out of me," she said. "Everything was going through my head: the games, my bike, financially how will I do it, how will I replace them?" she told the Canadian Press.
One of the bikes is a red, white and blue model used for time trials and the other is a red, black and white road racing bike.
Both have modified frames with two back wheels and are specially made for Croteau, who says she has a handicap that affects mostly her left side.
Surveillance footage Croteau posted online showed two men entering the underground garage of her condo building Monday night.
They could be seen leaving with the bicycles moments later.
Croteau took to social media on Friday to ask for help retrieving her property, and the response was dramatic.
She said she was overwhelmed by the flood of "unimaginable" messages of solidarity and offers of financial help she received from both businesses and the public.
"I just want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart. I lack the words to describe it," she said.
The owner of the company that built her bicycles, Louis Garneau, has offered to replace them in time for the games, meaning she can make her paralympic debut in September as planned.
The veteran national para-cycling team member said the news was "like a weight lifting off my shoulder."
"(Competing in the Olympics) has been my dream from childhood, and in the blink of an eye it just went 'poof, your dream is finished,'" she said. "And 24 hours later, it came back."
Croteau was named to the Canadian team for the 2012 games in London but was unable to compete due to a concussion.
Now she says she'll be able to concentrate on her training until she leaves for Rio on Sept. 5.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016