TOKYO - Canadian weightlifter Maude Charron made sure that, at least in some way, Christine Girard was able to be part of the experience that comes with winning an Olympic gold medal.
Charron won gold in the women's 64-kilogram event on Tuesday, and she spoke of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Girard, one of the sport's trailblazers.
"She's like my idol," Charron said. "When I won my first Canadian national championship, she was the one who gave me my gold medal. I was like 'Oh my god, that's Christine Girard! And I'm still: 'Oh my god, that's Christine Girard talking to me.'"
Girard won Canada's first ever weightlifting gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics. But she was denied her Olympic championship moment. Originally awarded a bronze, Girard wouldn't receive the medal she rightfully earned until years later, after the London gold and silver medallists were eventually stripped of their medals for doping infractions.
"Now I just feel like that's her medal, that's her moment, because she didn't have it in real time," Charron said. "So this is just a medal and a moment due to Canada."
Charron from Rimouski, Que., put the finishing touches on her medal with a successful lift of 131 kilograms on her third and final clean and jerk attempt.
Charron also had the highest score in the snatch phase, lifting 105 kilograms. Her total of 236 points over the two phases was four better than silver medallist Giorgia Bordignon of Italy.
Wen-Huei Chen of Taiwan finished third.
"Everyone does their thing, and if the bar falls, the bar falls," Charron said. "That's the game, that's the play, that's the sport -- you miss or you make it.:
The 28-year-old lifted her hands in triumph as she climbed the podium and appeared to wipe away tears as the Canadian anthem played.
"Actually I don't remember, I was just crying and I didn't realize what happened," she said with a laugh.
"I thought about my grandmother because once she told me she'd like me to sing the Canadian anthem, so I sang it -- but on the podium at the Olympics."
The weightlifter, who had once gone to circus school and dreamt of being a gymnast, said going into the Games that her goal was to give her best performance.
However, she had already established herself as a medal contender earlier this year when she won gold at the Pan American Championships in April, breaking three records on her way.
And her recent success came without having a gym to train at due to COVID-19.
"My gym in Quebec closed so I had to take my stuff -- my bar and my plates -- to my dad's garage," she said. "I trained there for a whole year along with my dog.
"It was fine, I just picture myself there in my peaceful place and it puts me in the right mood."
Charron's gold is Canada's second of the games after swimmer Maggie Mac Neil won the women's 100-metre butterfly on Monday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2021.