South Surrey’s Christine Girard (right) stands on the podium at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The other two podium finishes have now officially been stripped of their medals. (File photo)

Olympic gold now official for South Surrey weightlifter

Christine Girard’s bronze medal from 2012 Olympics upgraded to gold, IOC announces

Now it’s official – Christine Girard is an Olympic champion.

The retired South Surrey weightlifter learned this week from the International Olympic Committee that her bronze medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics – in the women’s 63-kg competition – is now officially upgraded to gold.

The gold and silver medallists – Kazakhstan’s Maiya Maneza and Russia’s Svetlana Tsurukaeva, respectively – were discovered to have tested positive for banned substances, with Maneza being stripped of her medal in the fall of 2016, and Tsurukeva in April of last year, leaving Girard as the only clean athlete left from the original trio of podium finishes.

Girard first heard the podium boost was in the works last spring – days after Tsurukeva was stripped of silver – but did not hear official word from the IOC until earlier this week. The decision was announced officially Thursday morning.

“We’re just so thrilled it’s finally official,” Girard told Peace Arch News.

“It’s the last step in a long journey – this all started two years ago. We’re really happy this moment is finally here.”

The next step for Girard – and the Canadian Olympic Committee – is to organize some type of medal ceremony, and offiially get the gold into Girard’s hands. Girard still doesn’t have the bronze medal she is owed from the 2008 Olympics – in which she finished fourth, but was bumped to third due to another doping sanction after the fact – and said she will recieve both medals at the upcoming ceremony.

In 2012, Girard’s bronze-medal win was a watershed moment for Canadian weightlifting – she was the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal. Now, she is also Canada’s first two-time medallist in the sport.

“Congratulations to Christine for this spectacular achievement. She is a weightlifting trailblazer in so many ways and we are extremely proud of her,” Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith said in a news release.

“Christine has always lived the values of sport and of competing clean. We are so pleased to see her finally receive the Olympic gold medal which she has so rightfully earned.”

When speaking to PAN last year about the failed drug tests of her two competitors, Girard said she was thrilled to be in line for a gold medal, but did feel cheated, in a sense, because she did not get to celebrate the win in the moment, at the 2012 Games.

Now, however, she’s excited to have her own ceremony, which she expects to happen “sometime later this year.”

“This way, I’ll get to share the moment with more people from here, so that’s good, too,” she said.

As well, Girard – who is originally from Rouyn-Noranda, Que. said she hopes the new ceremony will further help bring attention to the anti-doping cause – which is something she feels strongly about.

“I think having my medal later gives a stronger message… even though I didnt 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.”

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