Girard lifts way to Olympic bronze medal
Four years ago at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, weightlifter Christine Girard missed the podium by three kilograms.
And Tuesday in London, it looked like the 27-year-old – who moved to White Rock from Quebec four years ago – might again suffer the same oh-so-close fate.
Girard, who moved to B.C. when her husband, an RCMP officer, was transferred here, sat in fourth place after the snatch portion of the women's 63-kg competition, but vaulted onto the podium after she lifted 133 kg in her second attempt in the clean-and-jerk.
She lifted 103 kg in the snatch, for a total score of 236 kg.
Her lift knocked Turkey's Sibel Simsek, who lifted 130 kg in the clean-and-jerk, off the podium and into fourth spot, with a 235-kg total.
The gold medal was won by Kazakhstan's Maiya Maneza, who lifted a total of 245 kg and set an Olympic record in the clean-and-jerk. Silver went to Russia's Svetlana Tsarukaeva, who was the gold-medal favourite prior to the competition. She lifted a total of 237 kg.
Girard, who trains in South Surrey with the Semi Weightlifting Club, was one of Canada's top medal hopes heading into the Summer Games, which began Friday.
The bronze medal is Canada's fourth of the Olympics, and the country's first-ever women's weightlifting medal.
And while it was a historic win for Canadian weightlifting, it is bound to have an effect on those she trains with locally, too.
"It's a very big breakthrough for Canadian lifting, but we're just elated here, too," Semi Weightlifting founder Dieter Stamm said Tuesday.
"She's such a role model here for the younger lifters. They really look up to her. I just had one (young club member) call me to say, 'Did you see that?' He was so excited, he knew all the information, knew what happened.
"We're very proud of her. We've already got a big card we're going to sign and give to her."
Stamm admits he had a few nervous moments watching Girard's performance on television – especially after network coverage cut away from the competition briefly to focus on other events.
"After the snatch, when she in fourth, I thought, 'Oh no, not again,' and then the TV station switched away to gymnastics, so I was in the dark, waiting for updates. Then I saw she'd won bronze and just thought, 'Finally!'"
Though the medal is Girard's first at the Olympics, her weightlifting resumé includes Pan-American Games gold and silver medals, as well as gold and bronze medals in the Commonwealth Games. She holds clean-and-jerk records at both Games.
Also in London Tuesday morning, Canada's women's soccer team – which includes Peninsula resident Maeve Glass on its management staff – came from behind to tie Sweden – No. 4 in FIFA world rankings – 2-2, thus earning a spot in Olympic quarter-finals.
Canada, FIFA's seventh-ranked nation, finished third in Group F with a 1-1-1 record. The tournament's knockout stage begins Friday.