Standing on the podium in London as the only Canadian female to ever win a weightlifting medal at an Olympic Games, Christine Girard reflected on the journey that took her to that historic place.
The shoulder injury, the revolving door of four coaches over five years, obstacles both emotional and financial. all Girard went through led to that shining moment when she won a bronze medal at the 2012 Games.
The 28-year-old, who recently started a weightlifting club at Brookswood Secondary, shared her Olympic memories with members of the Rotary Club of Langley Sunrise during the club's Jan. 23 morning breakfast meeting at the Ricky's restaurant location in Walnut Grove.
Girard, who made her weightlifting debut at age 10, had a decorated resumé heading into London.
She joined the Canadian weightlifting team at 16 and participated in her first international competition in Greece.
Girard is a triple medalist at the Commonwealth Games (gold in 2010, silver in 2006, and bronze in clean and jerk in 2002), and participated three times at the Pan-American Games (2003, 2007, and 2011) where she finished seventh, second, and then took away a gold medal in 2011.
She currently holds all Canadian records in the 63 kg weight category, and holds Commonwealth and Pan-American Games records for snatch and total in that same division.
As she prepared for London, Girard received support from the Own the Podium program, on the basis of her fourth place result at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and her world ranking.
"It's kind of like saying, they believed in me, so I realized it was my job to believe, as well," Girard said. "I decided to take responsibility and instead of seeing everything as a problem, I decided to change the way I respond, and take control of what I can control and what I can change."
After moving to B.C. in 2010 and marrying her coach and best friend Walter Bailey, in 2011, Girard was more determined than ever to place at the Olympics.
Her first step was finding a place to train, but realized that her chosen sport is a noisy one.
"My sport is lifting heavy weights and dropping it down, so there's not a lot of people who want to hear that weight in the morning," Girard said.
She converted her garage into a gym.
"I realized that every problem became an opportunity to change," Girard said. "That's how I got into 2012, by seeing everything in a positive way."
But the week before the Olympics, a shoulder injury suffered from training combined with the pressure of competing on the world's largest sports stage felt overwhelming for her.
"I felt like, I did all that [training] for an injury one week before [the Olympics]?" she shared. "What the hell? But then I realized that in the last four years, the only thing I did was control what I could control, and take over what I can take over."
The day before the Olympics, after resting her injury, Girard said she felt relaxed and ready to compete.
"I trained, I did everything I could in the last four years, no matter what was in front of me I went through, and I decided I was ready," Girard said.
She slept soundly the night before the competition.
"I did everything I could, and now is just dessert. having fun competing," she said.
After the Olympics, her husband told a reporter, "Anybody else who went through what she did would have given up 100 times."
"At first, I thought it was kind of funny and then I thought of it, and I'm like, 'You know what, it's totally true,'" Girard said. "I'm not more talented than anybody else, I'm just really stubborn. So when people ask me, 'What did it take to go on the podium at the Olympics?' The easy way is just to say, you just need to be really stubborn."
Girard trains with the Brookswood Secondary weight-lfiting club every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
"We are lucky to have her here," Brookswood teacher Lisa Hansen said. "The students are keen and the club is going really well."