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Marie-Josée Arès-Pilon had to be asked to show-off the bronze medal tucked safely in the pocket of her Canada track-suit when she arrived at the Richardson International Airport Friday aftertoon.
Pilon, a weightlifter from Lorette, won bronze in the 69-kilogram category at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday.
It was Pilon's second time competing in the games, her last performance coming in 2010 Delhi games where she finished in fourth place.
"It felt really good because I put a lot of hard work into the past four years," Pilon said of the experience. "Every little bit of kilo counted for the bronze so I was really happy about that."
Pilon is orginally from Edmonton, having moved to Lorette about a year ago because of her husband's career opportunity. She credits a lot of her development over the years to the support of the Alberta Weightlifting Association but said she has also found a home here with the Manitoba Weightlifting Association.
There were two portions to Pilon's event: The "snatch" and the "clean and jerk," each gave the athletes three attempts and the total weight lifted determined the results.
In the snatch exercise, she easily lifted 95kg on her first lift and 97kg on her second lift. On her third, the 5-4 Pilon powerfully pulled the barbell up and over her head for a third lift of 99kg, just one kilogram off her personal best, which put her in third place heading into the clean and jerk.
In the clean and jerk portion, Pilon exploded with 110kg lift on her first attempt. On her second attempt, Pilon battled to lift 115kg and was successful. She failed her heavier third lift and happily settled for a bronze medal.
"I was just trying to put 100 per cent on the platform and that's what I did so I'm really happy that I was able to pull through with a great performance," she said.
Pilon said she's had a minor back injury for over a month a half but was happy she was able to land on the podium.
"We had a really good therapist in the back and he's actually from Steinbach, Manitoba," she said. "So he was helping the Canadian weightlifting team with therapy in the back and you're trying to perform your best, it's very optimal and you barely feel the pain because they're doing all the techniques you need to get though the performance."
The quiet-mannered Pilon appeared to be caught off guard by the attention, needing no entourage during her journey back home. Even during training, the 32-year-old, who started training 10 years ago, can't be found in your local gym.
Instead, she trains in the garage of her Lorette home two to three times per day. She said it's back to training next week, in preparation for the 2014 world championships in Kazakhstan.
"At the games we were lifting everyday up until the competition," said Pilon. "It's much less than what I'm used to...
"So it actually felt like a vacation. Wasn't a vacation on the platform, it was work but it paid off so I'm happy," she said with a laugh.