One of Canada’s most decorated Olympians – and a former Semiahmoo Peninsula resident – has been inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.
Weightlifter Christine Girard won a bronze medal in the women’s 63-kg division at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, only to have it upgraded to gold years later after the two medallists ahead of her had their medals stripped due to doping violation. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, Girard placed fourth, but eventually saw that medal bumped to bronze – again due to doping violations by those above her in the medal table.
The 34-year-old Quebec native – who lived in the South Surrey/White Rock area during her competitive career and now lives in Gatineau, Que. – was officially inducted into the Canadian Olympic hall in late September, and an official announcement from the Canadian Olympic team came Oct. 1.
“It’s with strength and justice that two-time Olympic medallist (Christine Girard) joins the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2019,” the tweet reads.
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) October 1, 2019
In the fall of 2016, four years after Girard stood in the bronze-medal position on the podium in London, the gold medallist – Kazakhstan’s Maiya Maneza – was stripped of her gold medal after failing a drug test, and in April 2017, the silver medallist, Russia’s Svetlana Tsurukaeva, suffered the same fate and had her medal rescinded, too.
In April 2018, Girard was officially announced as the gold medallist, though she didn’t actually get the medal – as well as the ‘08 bronze – in her hands until a ceremony was held for her last December in Ottawa.
“It’s the last step in a long journey,” Girard told Peace Arch News in April 2018.
In retirement, Girard has been an ardent supporter of improved drug testing in sports, and an outspoken critic of those who break the rules. In numerous interviews over the past few years – including with PAN – she has stated that though she feels as though she was cheated out of a memorable Olympic moment, the attention her story gained years later had a positive effect, too.
“I think having my medal later gives a stronger message… even though I didn’t have that moment in London,” she said.
“This is a win for (clean) athletes, a win for our country and a win for our values. I’m pretty happy about that.”
Unlike her two medals, however, the hall-of-fame nod wasn’t one she had to wait a decade for.
Girard was joined in the 2019 induction class by triathlete Simon Whitfield, divers Alexandre Despatie and Emilie Heymans, judo coach Hiroshi Nakamura, Canada’s 2010 women’s hockey team and 2012 women’s soccer team, as well as the late Jack Poole – who spearheaded Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic hosting bid – and late sports journalist Randy Starkman, who wrote for years for the Toronto Star.
“I’m so humbled to be inducted in the class of 2019 and share a space with some Giants of Canadian sport,” Girard wrote on Twitter.