(ATR) Weightlifter Christine Girard of Canada tells ATR she’s proud to represent clean sport.
Girard, 33, originally won a bronze medal in weightlifting at the London Olympics. But with both the silver and gold medalists disqualified after their samples were retested, Girard received word last week that the IOC has moved her up to first place.
She becomes the first Canadian to win a gold medal in weightlifting.
"I was just so thrilled to be on that podium," Girard tells Around the Rings, recalling her feelings as the bronze medalist six years ago in London. "To finally get that medal, it was a first for our country," she says from her home in British Columbia.
Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan and Svetlana Tsarukaeva of Russia were the disqualified athletes, their retesting delivering positives two years ago.
The gold medal will be the second medal for Girard that hinged on doping retests. Originally fourth at the Beijing Olympics, Girard was bumped up to the bronze medal after the silver medalist crashed out with a positive retest, also in 2016.
"I had some bitter feelings when I heard about the positives two years ago. Now I kind of make peace with that. I know that I have lost a lot of sponsorship and support. But what I have been through has made me theperson that I am now and I’m happy with that.
"I think my medals now have a stronger meaning. I can be a better advocate for clean sport with my story," Girard says.
She believes the International Weightlifting Federation, now under IOC watch as a result of chronic doping, is belatedly addressing the problem.
"I know they’re working hard now but I wish you could’ve been earlier. But I know they take it seriously. The IOC has said my federation has to fix this problem and they are taking it seriously," she says.
"Maybe one day" is her reply to whether she would be interested in a leadership role in the male-dominated federation. For now she says she’s spending plenty of time raising three young children and coaching a new generation of lifters.
Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith calls Girard "a trailblazer". The COC will be organizing a ceremony to award the medal, date to be announced.
Girard says she's looking at the ceremony as much a tribute to her country.
"For me I really want to share with Canadians because I think it’s a win for our values. I really hope I’ll be able to do that with this ceremony," she says.
"This is the sport I wish for future athletes, for future Olympians competing on an international stage. I want them to have a fair field of play, which obviously I did not have. I’m hoping that my voice can be heard in a different way now," she says.
Reported by Ed Hula.