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A 2012 Olympic Gold Medal, Finally Awarded in 2018

Category: Other Sports,Sports

When Christine Girard was presented with the gold medal in weight lifting from the 2012 Olympics, there was a podium, a Canadian flag and an anthem sung by a choir. In the audience were Olympians, officials, friends and family.

Included among them were her three children, none of them yet born in 2012. That’s because the presentation of the medal came on Monday, more than six years after the competition.

In London, Girard lifted a total of 520 pounds, good for third place in her division. It was the first medal ever for a female Canadian weight lifter. But in 2016, Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan and Svetlana Tsarukayeva of Russia were disqualified after retesting of their samples revealed performance-enhancing drugs. Girard became the retroactive gold medalist.

At the National Arts Center in Ottawa, about 100 people gathered for a 20-minute ceremony during which Girard finally got her gold medal.

“It was a win of our values, a win for clean sport,” Girard said.

The increasing number of medal-winning athletes caught by testing years later, especially from the 2008 and 2012 Games, has meant more and more athletes are receiving medals that for years they thought they had lost. Not all of them had elaborate ceremonies. Adam Nelson, the American shot-putter elevated to gold for the 2004 Games, was handed his medal outside a Burger King at the Atlanta airport in 2013.

“Anything they could do to recognize the athletes that were robbed of the moment would certainly go a long way toward repairing some of the damage that was done,” Nelson told USA Today.

Girard said: “I think it’s really important to have a big ceremony. The more we talk about the positive, the better it could be for future athletes.”

Even when Girard was competing, the specter of drugs hung over the competition. “Unfortunately, my sport has a strong correlation between the results and taking drugs,” she said. Of her competitors at the time, she said, “We had a lot of suspicion, but we had no proof.”

Girard returned her 2012 bronze medal last spring. But the gold she was awarded on Monday was not the one that Maneza was given. “They made new medals or they took some from the museum,” Girard said.

Girard also received a bronze from the 2008 Games in Beijing, where she originally finished fourth.

Besides her motherhood duties, the now-retired Girard is planning to return to college for a master’s in occupational therapy.

She is bullish on the future for clean weight lifters.

“I wanted to prove that it was possible to beat them,” she said of drug users, “and stay true to who we are. I remember the first time I beat someone who got caught. I said, ‘See, see, I can do this,’ ”


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