Olympic weightlifting medalist Christine Girard knows the difference having the support of family and friends made on her journey to the 2012 Summer Games podium.
She owes “a lot” of what got her there to her husband, Walter Bailey, and his parents, Girard told those who turned out for a special athlete recognition event at White Rock city hall Monday.
“They actually allowed me to train in the garage of their house,” Girard said of her in-laws. “Without them, I wouldn’t be (in the Olympics) either.”
Girard, 27, who won bronze in London in July, was among 18 “extraordinary individuals” celebrated by the city Monday for their past and present athletic success.
Nine athletes – Girard, Lois Wood, Ken Sully, Bev Boys, Brad Vollans, Paul Williams, Paul Horne, Stacey Kohler and Maeve Glass – were able to attend the event.
Mayor Wayne Baldwin described the gathering of athletes as “like having a living Sports Hall of Fame in our own council chambers.”
One by one, each was invited to stand, and their accomplishments shared with the crowd. Those distinctions ranged from Olympic performances in swimming, running and diving to extensive contributions in coaching and playing for the NHL.
Athletes who were noted but did not attend included: Jeff Bandura, Lynn Kanuka, Hilary Caldwell, Janice Birch, Sarah Hunter, Colton Gillies, Richard Zokol, Richard Weinberger and Adam Kleeberger.
Baldwin said it is “truly amazing” how many individuals on the Peninsula are dedicated to sports. Efforts are underway to determine a fitting way of preserving those accomplishments in a more lasting form, he added, encouraging anyone who knows of a person deserving of such recognition to submit the name to city hall.
Baldwin also paid tribute to the parents, teachers, coaches and others who help and encourage the athletes’ to pursue their dreams.
Girard – who Baldwin noted was the first Canadian woman to win a weighlifting medal – said that support makes a world of difference.
“It means a lot for athletes,” she said. “It’s good to show other athletes that are building their way up that it is important.
“Sport changes lives and it’s important to recognize that and keep pushing our kids to do better.”