Medals worth the wait – in gold – for Cana­dian Olympian

Long time com­ing

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - JOE WARMINGTON

If you’re think­ing of quit­ting on your dream, take a mo­ment and think of Chris­tine Gi­rard.

She waited a long time to achieve hers.

And even longer to be rec­og­nized. Ten years in one case, six years in an­other.

But bet­ter late then never for the Cana­dian Olympic weightlifter who was born in El­liott Lake but moved to Rouyn-No­randa, Que., with her fam­ily at 8 years old.

The story be­gins at the 2008 Olympics in Bei­jing,, where she fin­ished fourth. Four years later at the 2012 Lon­don Olympics, Gi­rard did even bet­ter and won a cov­eted bronze medal.

It was a nice way to go into re­tire­ment and raise a fam­ily — she’s now a full­time mom with three kids.

Then came the dop­ing tests. And later came the news she never ex­pected.

Back in 2008, when she fin­ished fourth, it turns out she ac­tu­ally placed third. Seems the per­son who took home the bronze at her first Olympics did so thanks to dop­ing.

The story gets even bet­ter. Re­mem­ber the bronze medal from 2012? That piece of hard­ware, it turns out, should have been gold.

The women she shared the podium with, the ones who took the gold and sil­ver, were both caught cheat­ing.

It was Gi­rard who was ac­tu­ally the Olympic cham­pion — al­beit get­ting her gold medal in front of a few peo­ple in Ot­tawa and not bil­lions.

But she will take it. It was long over­due.

“I want to cel­e­brate this mo­ment with all Cana­di­ans as it is a vic­tory of our val­ues,” said Gi­rard. “I want peo­ple to un­der­stand that re­gard­less of your gen­der or sport, with hard work, de­ter­mi­na­tion and a lit­tle bit of pa­tience, your dreams are within reach.

“Thank you to ev­ery­one who has sup­ported me through­out my jour­ney in­clud­ing my fam­ily, friends, coaches and most of all to my coun­try for con­tin­u­ing to be­lieve in pro­mot­ing equal and clean sport for all,” she added.

This was a big mo­ment for the Cana­dian Olympic Com­mit­tee as well.

“We are thrilled that the day has now ar­rived where Chris­tine will be prop­erly rec­og­nized and cel­e­brated for her his­toric achieve­ments at the Bei­jing 2008 and Lon­don 2012 Olympic Games,” said COC pres­i­dent Tri­cia Smith. “Chris­tine has shown in­cred­i­ble strength and per­se­ver­ance through­out her long ca­reer, al­ways com­pet­ing with in­tegrity and grace.”

“We are so pleased to see her re­ceive the Olympic medals which she has so right­fully earned,” Smith said. “She is an in­spir­ing em­bod­i­ment of the Olympic val­ues and fair and clean sport. We con­grat­u­late Chris­tine.”

The moral of the story?

Never stop be­liev­ing.

As Chris­tine Gi­rard can at­test, some things are worth wait­ing for.

Ob­vi­ously with $41.7 mil­lion be­ing paid over the next four years for Wil­liam Ny­lan­der to come back from hold­ing out in Swe­den, there’s money in hockey. But not for ev­ery­body.

Take the Camp­bell­ford Rebels for ex­am­ple. They are in essence bank­rupt and may not even be able to play out the sea­son.

The Junior C squad, which has been in ex­is­tence since 1992, has had to turn to so­cial me­dia for fund­ing with the hopes of get­ting enough cash to­gether to pay for the ice time that will let them get to the end of the 2018-19 sea­son.

“Ice time has not been paid for, coaches are not be­ing paid, bus­ing is not paid and other items that should be pro­vided are not be­ing pro­vided,” writes Cathy Yea­ger on GoFundMe.

“You won­der how the team is still run­ning? Well, the coach­ing staff have been cover­ing ne­ces­si­ties out of their own pock­ets, as well as con­tin­u­ing to coach know­ing they re­ceive no com­pen­satory amount,” she writes. “They have done ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble them­selves to keep the boys play­ing un­til the end of the sea­son.”

And the play­ers have been troop­ers too.

She’s hop­ing to raise $11,000 from the pub­lic to help them fin­ish up the sea­son while there is talk of new team own­er­ship or new ideas.

As of Fri­day evening she had raised $2,300, which is about what some pay to go to a Maple Leafs play­off game.

There is money in hockey — and hope­fully there is just a lit­tle bit for the Camp­bell­ford Rebels too.

Speak­ing of hockey, one of the best pro­grams for youth in Canada is called First Shift, which is spon­sored by Bauer and Cana­dian Tire for kids six to 10 who have not yet played the game.

They have the best vol­un­teer coaches in the world come out and teach the young­sters from scratch just how the game is played.

Six weeks of ses­sions and head-to-toe equip­ment for $199.

Many of the kids are step­ping into skates for the first time and by the end are skat­ing. It worked for my lit­tle guy, Josh, and I want to thank the Mis­sis­sauga Hockey League, the Ap­ple­wood Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion and ex­ec­u­tive head coach Jim McCaf­frey and his team for all of their amaz­ing ef­forts to help the kids.

Re­mem­ber to chase those dreams, ev­ery­body.

Scrawler out.

Chris­tine Gi­rard cel­e­brates with her chil­dren af­ter be­ing awarded her medals.

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