Mon, September 23, 2013

Canadian weightlifter Christine Girard wins bronze

By ALAIN BERGERON, QMI Agency


Canada's Christine Girard competes on the women's 63-kilogram weightlifting competition at London 2012 Olympic Games, July 31, 2012. (PAUL HANNA/Reuters)

LONDON - Since Christine Girard can lift 133 kg, you can imagine how sweet she felt when she put the 400-gram bronze medal around her neck.

“I grew up thinking it was almost impossible to win an Olympic medal in my sport. Today, I am so happy that I listened to my heart and not to my head, because it turned out to be possible. I did it,” she said without breathing. She has become the first Canadian weighlifting medallist since the country started competing in the field, in 2000.

Girard almost made it to the podium during the Beijing Games, and she feared history would repeat itself. Her disappointing attempt at lifting 130 kg in snatch forced her to lift 133 kg in clean-and-jerk, the second highest after that of champion Maiya Maneza (110-135-245 kg). Her total of 236 kg was just enough to shove Sibel Simsek from Turkey (105-130-235) into the sad fourth place, where she herself had finished in 2008.

“When I failed my last attempt, I really thought I would end up fourth again. Which is why I couldn’t believe it when I climbed on the podium.”

Born in Elliott Lake, Ontario, raised in Rouyn-Noranda and now living in White Rock, B.C., the 27-year-old athlete could have trouble deciding how to share her medal, one of the four Canadian medals, all won by Quebecers.

“Look at my nails,” she says, showing the end of her fingers, painted red and white. “I am completely Canadian.”

One thing’s certain, a party will soon start in Rouyn-Noranda, where the new Olympic medalist grew up practicing her sport.

“There’s gonna be a cool party when I go back. I really look forward to showing my medal. Rouyn-Noranda will forever be my city. I was not born there but I lived there for a long time and I can’t wait to share my medal with everyone there.”