Published On: Fri, Nov 30th, 2018

Years late, a Canadian Olympic great is finally recognized

On Monday, Canadian weightlifter Christine Girard will be handed two Olympic medals, the highest honour her sport has to offer. There’s no competition and no doubt about whether she will win.

This is about righting past wrongs. She earned these gold and bronze medals years ago but was cheated out of them at the time by the doping competitors who stood on the podium ahead of her, and a system that didn’t do enough to catch them when it mattered most.

Canada’s Christine Girard is about to get the Olympic medals she was cheated out of by doping competitors.
Canada’s Christine Girard is about to get the Olympic medals she was cheated out of by doping competitors.  (Hassan Ammar / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

So six to 10 years and three children after Girard raised the heavy bars over her head at the 2008 and 2012 Games she’s being recognized for her true athletic excellence.

She started lifting with a broom stick, copying her older sister, when she was 10 years old. And more than a dozen years of hard training later Girard should have stood proudly on the 2008 Beijing podium with a bronze around her neck as Canada’s first female Olympic medallist in weightlifting. Four years after that she should have heard the national anthem play for her at the 2012 London Games as Canada’s first-ever Olympic champion in the sport.

Instead, she came home from Beijing feeling like Canadians saw her as “almost good.” And she wasn’t able to reap the opportunities and financial benefits that often accompany Olympic medals, particularly gold ones.

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That weightlifting is so rife with doping and winners from countries that, unlike Canada, do not run anti-doping programs that are actually designed to catch cheaters, makes Girard’s Olympic success all the more incredible.

She will finally have her medals and that’s something, but she’ll never get back all she missed. And that’s the real price of the failure of international sporting bodies and the World Anti-Doping Agency to ensure fair competition.

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TORONTO STAR

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Years late, a Canadian Olympic great is finally recognized