Photo: Christine Girard, first two-time Olympic medalist in Canadian Weightlifting.
© Serge Gouin 2018
One of my first paid photography assignment was to photograph a weightlifting competition. I was just getting started in photography and, at the time, I was a member of a photography club at my Cegep (college in Quebec). My wife’s uncle, Gaetan, had asked if I would photograph the competition that his daughter’s were competing in.
I shot this gig in black and white, on film in a dark gymnasium and processed the images using chemicals in our club’s darkroom. It was a different reality than with digital photography today, but what a great learning experience.
That day, in that gym, I was far from suspecting that I was documenting the early stage of an Olympic champion; Christine Girard.
About 10 years later, in 2008 she represented Canada in her first Olympics in Beijing. At the time of these Olympics I was working as official photographer for Michaëlle Jean, then Governor general, and we were on the road at La Citadelle when Christine was competing. I had set my alarm in the middle of the night to watch (and cheer) her, in my tiny room in the basement.
As for the 2012 Olympics in London, it was in our living room that we watched Christine step on the podium. What an incredible feeling that was!
I will spare you the story about the doping and the upgraded medals since the media covered it pretty well. You can read it here. If you wish to learn more about her opinion, here is an article for which Christine said in a Facebook post following the ceremony: “How can someone understand me so well with just a few minutes interview? Awesome article!!“.
Fast-forward many years (and a few urine tests) later, Christine asked if I would photograph her medal presentation ceremony at the National Art Centre (NAC) in Ottawa . “It would be an honour” was my response.
Today at the NAC, in front of her family, Christine showed all of Canada and the World that her hard work, dedication, perseverance, patience and honesty pays. She became the first two-time Olympic medalist in Canadian Weightlifting.
It was festive, prestigious and most of all memorable. I am so happy to have had this amazing opportunity to document this historic event and I know she will cherish those memories forever.
It was also a very special moment for our respective kids who attended the ceremony together at the front row, with their eyes wide open. I have no doubt they will remember this special day and that Christine will always be an inspiration and a model in their life.
Congratulations Christine! Thank you for trusting me with this important responsibility. We are all so proud of you.
You can buy her book here (french, but soon to be available in english): De la défaite à la victoire.