Boxing Sports

Tammara Thibeault: From Concordia to the Olympics

The Canadian boxer has been undefeated since 2021 and is now eyeing the gold medal in Paris.

Concordia alumna Tammara Thibeault recently won the women’s boxing middleweight gold medal at the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games. 

Today, all her attention is geared towards the only competition she has yet to win at the amateur level: the Olympic Games.

Her beginnings

Growing up, Tammara Thibeault’s father was a wide receiver for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. During the offseason, he boxed to stay in shape. Thibeault’s passion for the sport started at nine years old when visiting the boxing gym with her father. “On Fridays, we would go together, my three siblings and I, and then eventually I just got hooked on to the sport,” she recalled. 

In 2012, women’s boxing became an Olympic sport. By then, Thibeault had already been boxing for a few years. She remembers looking up to Mary Spencer at the time, the first Canadian woman to box at the Olympics in her weight class. 

Seeing Spencer, a young Canadian woman at the Olympics, inspired Thibault to chase her own dream of becoming an Olympic champion.

Balancing school and boxing

Following her 2017 Canadian Championship win, Thibeault joined the Canadian national team. From there, success quickly followed, with multiple medals at international competitions.

Around the same time, she started attending Concordia University, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in urban studies in 2023. 

Being a university student and an elite international athlete simultaneously was not easy. There was “a lot of running around, a lot of tiresome days, but I managed to make it work,” Thibeault said.

After next year’s Olympics, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in urban studies, a field she wants to work in after her career in boxing.

First Olympic experience and gold medal galore

Tammara Thibeault with her gold medal from the 2023 Pan American Games.
Courtesy Photo by Sweet Science Management

Thibeault qualified for what was originally the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. However, the yearlong postponement of the event was a stressful experience for her. “The fact that the Olympics got postponed for a year was kind of crazy,” she said. Since her loss in the quarter-finals in Tokyo, the southpaw fighter is undefeated, a streak of over two years. 

In 2022, she won her first world title at the International Boxing Association Women’s World Boxing Championships. Since the Olympics, she has also won the 2022 Commonwealth Games and two continental championships. 

Thibeault then headed into the 2023 Pan American Games this October with two goals: qualifying for the Olympics and winning the gold medal. She did both, winning every fight by either the referee stopping the contest or by unanimous decision.

What’s next?

After taking some time off to relax and attend graduation, Thibeault will start her preparation for the Olympics next summer in Paris. Although she is ranked number one in the world in her weight category and is arguably the favourite to win the gold medal, she tries not to put too much pressure on her shoulders regarding expectations.

“I’m definitely on top of the game right now, but I try not to think about [being ranked number one in the world] because I don’t want it to impact my performances. I try to take everything one step at a time and just, like, really focus on what I can control,” Thibeault expressed.

After the Olympics, Thibeault plans to turn professional. The two main differences between the amateur and professional levels are that amateur boxing is competed in a knockout tournament format, while professional boxing consists of longer single fights. 

“I think women’s boxing is growing and the level of opposition is growing, which is really interesting because you have women like me who have big amateur backgrounds that jump into the professional sport,” she said. “I think people are starting to appreciate women’s boxing more, which is really nice.” 


Cricket? In Canada?

Cricket may initially look complex, but do not worry, it is not. The soon-to-be Olympic sport is even growing in Canada.

Despite being heavily popular in other Commonwealth countries, cricket is relatively unknown in Canada. But this may be about to change.

What is cricket?

The sport is played between two teams of 11 players on a large oval grass field. In the middle, two “wickets,” consisting of three vertical posts on which bails rest, are placed 22 yards apart. Depending on the match format, each team has one or two innings or chances to bat. An innings ends if 10 of 11 batsmen are out or, in specific formats, if a certain number of “bowls,” or throws, has been reached. The winner is the team with the most runs after completing all innings.

The batting team has two batsmen on the field, one at each wicket. They can score runs by hitting the ball directly outside the boundary for six runs. If the ball bounces before reaching the boundary, it counts for four runs. If both batsmen safely run across to the other “crease” where the wickets are, for one run. The batsmen may also run back and forth between the creases to get more runs.

The fielding team has all 11 players on the field. They aim to get the batsmen out. The “bowler” gets the batsman out if he throws the ball and hits the wicket. If the batsman prevents the ball from hitting the wicket by blocking it with their legs, they are out. A ball hit, then directly caught, also counts as an out. Batsmen can also be “run out” or “stumped” if a player throws the ball onto the wicket and the batsman is out of the crease.

Important times ahead

Concordia alumnus Mudasser Akbar, MEng ’17, is the CEO of the Montreal Tigers, the city’s professional cricket team. They are the reigning GT20 Canada champions. Entirely played in Brampton, Ontario, the league had attendance figures reaching 5,000 people per game. Unfortunately, the reality in Montreal is not the same. Akbar explained how no cricket ground in the city has lights to allow people to play in the evening.

However, Akbar is optimistic about the sport’s future in Canada. “It is a growing sport [in Canada],” he said. The national team has qualified for the 2024 T20 World Cup for the first time. There, Canada will play some of the best nations in the world. He thinks playing against these countries can help grow the sport. 

More importantly, cricket will be an Olympic sport starting at the Los Angeles 2028 Games. “I am super happy and excited,” Akbar said. He explained that such an event will bring massive attention to the sport. “Imagine a Canadian cricket team representing [the country] at Los Angeles. That would be amazing.”

Ar(t)chives Arts

Melvin Charney’s history of Sherbrooke St.

1976 saw Sherbrooke St. becoming an arts venue, but only until the city’s mayor decided otherwise

The city of Montreal welcomed the Olympic Games in 1976. Along with the sporting events, art pieces were showcased and organized throughout the city. Corridart was one of them: an urban exhibition displayed on a long portion of Sherbrooke St. going from Atwater Ave. to Pie-IX Blvd. Curator Melvin Charney led the organization of the event, which presented various installations, exhibitions, and performances. He was interested in the history of the street, and the historical value of its buildings.

The event saw a variety of artistic creations. Pierre Ayot presented the sculpture La croix du mont Royal, a large illuminated replica of the mythical Mount Royal cross. Another piece entitled Mémoires de la rue was composed of scaffolding structures on which images and art pieces would be placed. Large red plastic hands pointing at different elements of the urban landscape, such as buildings or streets, were also a notable element of the exhibit.

Politics quickly took a large place in the evolution of the event as the exhibition was dismantled less than a week after it was launched, ordered by Mayor Jean Drapeau. This occurred during the night of July 13, four days before the start of the Olympics. Drapeau believed the artworks did not fit the aesthetic standards that would properly represent the city for this international event.

Charney had not aimed at presenting a clean and perfect Montreal. On the contrary, according to art history professor and researcher Johanne Sloan’s analysis of the event in the book The Other Architect: Another Way of Building Architecture, the curator’s approach was to “insist on the cultural value of domestic and vernacular architecture, and of streets themselves.”

Charney had done extensive preliminary research for this project. He analyzed the history of the buildings, the sidewalks, and their placement in the public space. Therefore, the location where the artworks would be placed was meticulously chosen so that the architectural heritage of the city would be integrated in the exhibit. The goal was to make art accessible to pedestrians and encourage them to engage with it.

For Charney, the street was itself a representation of the city’s cultural background. “The physical traces of the streets define a bond between people and the city as a collective, public artifact that subsumes individual buildings,” he wrote in 1977 as published in the book On Architecture: Melvin Charney, A Critical Anthology.

The presented artworks tackled themes related to the history of Montreal, its urban development, and activism in the community. Artist Françoise Sullivan presented a creation titled Legend of Artists. This piece featured archives of meaningful art movements in Montreal. They were displayed in large boxes placed on top of steel legs, and each contained objects, texts, and photos recalling a specific artistic practice. Those mini-exhibitions were placed in arts venues as well as in front of the homes of artists who inspired Sullivan, such as Paul-Émile Borduas and Émile Nelligan.

Legend of Artists reached passersby and accompanied their walk on Sherbrooke St. while providing a historical background on cultural events related to the site. Charney’s creation for the exhibition also touched on historical features, but through one monumental work. Entitled Les maisons de la rue Sherbrooke, the piece was a life-size imitation of an apartment building’s facade. The empty lot where it was presented was previously occupied by Victorian style buildings that had been destroyed by the city.

Charney’s installation replicated the aesthetic of the new modern buildings that were built in the neighbourhood. The piece engaged with reflections on the treatment of the city’s architectural heritage.

Despite its short existence, Corridart is still recognized today for its ideas regarding the reappropriation of everyday urban spaces by pedestrians. According to Sloan, Charney was “proposing a theory of the street itself as the site of urban knowledge.”

Following the destruction of the exhibition, a group of artists who had participated in it sued the city of Montreal for $350,000. The controversy around this project became famous and the plaintiffs eventually received a total of $85,000 12 years later through a settlement agreement with the city.


Visuals by Taylor Reddam



The future of the upcoming Olympic Games still unclear

Athletes and fans deserve more transparency from the organizers

Last summer was the first time ever that the Olympic Games have been postponed. However, it’s still unclear whether or not the event will take place in 2021.

Right now, it is said that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which are still commonly called by their original year, will start on July 23. The problem is that there are still many questions to be answered, including if the public will be allowed on site during competitions.

Also, there have been recent reports saying that the Olympic Games were cancelled. The Times of London said the event was going to be cancelled because of COVID-19.

However, these reports were denied by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and local Olympic Games organizers.

Despite Bach saying the goal was still to have the Olympic Games this summer, it brought confusion about whether or not it was possible to see the event totally cancelled, instead of postponed. The fact that more than 80 per cent of Japanese citizens surveyed in two recent polls think the Olympic Games should be postponed or cancelled, or think the Games won’t happen, also adds questions to the table.

We’re now five months away from Tokyo 2020, but it feels like we know as much about what’s going to happen as we did a few months ago. Of course, the pandemic is an unpredictable problem for the event’s organizers, which forces them to always consider last-minute changes. However, more transparency about the future of the 2020 Olympic Games would be great for athletes and fans.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


Amidst COVID-19, a look back at some great sports moments

Have you ever heard the saying “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone?”

Many sports fans around the world had this realization this past week, as they saw, one after another, their favourite sports teams and leagues suspended their activities due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

At this point, the vast majority of sports events have been cancelled. The Indian Wells Masters 1000 tennis tournament of the BNP Paribas Open was one of the first sports competitions to be officially cancelled. It was first announced that it would be played behind closed doors, but a confirmed case of the COVID-19 at the Indian Wells venue forced the organizers to cancel the event a few hours before its start.

As a tennis fan, it was a shock to see one of the biggest competitions of the season outright cancelled. At first, I thought it was a drastic decision, but then came to understand that the tournament wasn’t worth the risk, considering the severity of the virus.

I thought there would still be other sports to watch, like hockey, soccer, and even other tennis tournaments that wouldn’t be cancelled. Yet, in a matter of days, almost all were postponed or cancelled.

This is a unique situation we’re going through, and hopefully we won’t have to deal with this ever again. These moments make us realize how important our passions are to us, and help us gather together and cherish what we love.

I’m used to waking up in the morning and watching sports recaps and talk shows. I would normally talk about what happened in sports the previous day with my friends before going to class, and then prepare to watch a game in the evening.

It’s obviously impossible to bring fresh sports news to the public right now. However, as we’re looking for things to talk about other than COVID-19, here are some recent sports moments that should bring some happiness in your day.


First up is Sidney Crosby’s historic “Golden Goal” at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Team Canada faced Team USA for gold in men’s hockey. Tied 2-2, Crosby scored the game-winning goal with 12:20 left in overtime, lifting an entire nation into a celebration, with a goal that changed the history of hockey and the Olympic Games forever. Even 20 years later, people talk about that goal when celebrating the 2010 Olympic Games of Vancouver. The rivalry between Team Canada and Team USA continued to grow since then.

In women’s hockey, the Canadian national team won the Olympic gold at Sochi 2014, in what has become an iconic game against their American rivals. Trailing by one with less than a minute to play, Team USA hit the post when trying to secure what would have been a 3-1 score with an empty-net goal. Team Canada took advantage of it, as Marie-Philip Poulin tied the game seconds later to force overtime. Poulin then scored her second of the game in overtime, securing gold for Canada.

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu made history last September when she won her first ever Grand Slam title at the 2019 US Open versus Serena Williams. She became the first ever Canadian Grand Slam title winner.

Next is this legendary bat flip from Jose Bautista in 2015, in Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers. Bautista’s three-run homer gave the Toronto Blue Jays a 6-3 lead late in the game.

The NFL sees its fair share of spectacular catches. One of the best (if not the best) was this one by Odell Beckham Jr. in 2015. Despite being held to one-hand while being interfered with, Beckham Jr. managed to catch the ball and get a touchdown.

One of the most discussed plays of recent years in football came when the Seattle Seahawks faced the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl XLIX. With a second down and goal, the Seahawks opted for a passing play despite the fact they would lose the game if it were to be intercepted. They also had the always-entertaining Marshawn Lynch at running back, which only made many fans more upset. Surely, they thought, Lynch would have made it to the end zone safely.

Unfortunately for the Seahawks and their fans, Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted by the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler, ensuring his team’s Super Bowl victory.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a real football list without this play between quarterback Case Keenum and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. In the last seconds of overtime in a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints during a National Football Conference divisional playoff game in 2018, Diggs caught Keenum’s pass while his defender missed their tackle, and ran down the field unopposed for a 61-yard game-winning touchdown.

In golf, Tiger Woods made history once again last year when he won the 2019 Masters Tournament. This was a historic moment, not only for golf, but for sports in general. His triumph was celebrated by many fans around the world, especially considering the tough years he went through preceding this victory.

This picture also went viral on social media. The first image shows Woods hugging his father after winning the Master Tournament in 1997, while the second shows him and his son, shortly after his 2019 victory.

What about the two-point buzzer-beater shot from Kawhi Leonard. As the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers were heading to overtime in game seven of the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals, Leonard gave the Raptors the win, shooting the ball in the basket with less than a second left in the game. That put the score at 92-90 and pushed the Raptors to the next round. The team would go on to win their next series and the league’s championship.

Finally, at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games of Rio, Canadian Penny Oleksiak lived what us common folk would call “a fairytale” born of hard work and talent. Only 16 at that time, Oleksiak won four medals, including the gold medal in the women’s 100m freestyle event.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


The defining Canadian sports moments of the decade

With the decade coming to a close, I really can’t help but be nostalgic of all the incredible sports moments we’ve seen in the past 10 years.

I have to give a disclaimer; this will be inherently biased as a Canadian. So let’s just call it ‘my’ best sports moments of the decade.

Sports evoke so much emotion and, like music, can take you back to where you were when these moments happened. I can remember where I was for each of these.

Alright, let’s get down to it. These are, by the way, in no particular order, my favourite moments:


Crosby’s Golden Goal

We begin where the last decade did. The Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver was the third time in history that Canada played host to the world’s greatest athletes. Never before had Canada won gold on home soil, until Alexandre Bilodeau grabbed the hearts of so many – on Valentine’s Day, of all days – winning gold in men’s moguls.

Up until the final day of the 2010 Olympic Games, Canada held 13 gold medals. They had one more to collect. The feeling around the country was that even if they did collect the most gold of all the countries, if they didn’t take home the men’s hockey gold it would’ve been a bust for the entire Canadian Olympic team.

There was so much hype around this team, as there always is. But at the same time, odds makers had a reluctance by so many to give them any credibility after finishing seventh overall in the last Olympics in Turin.

Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry opened the scoring for Canada in the gold medal game, giving them a leg-up on the United States. Ryan Kesler cut their lead in half in the second period. Then with 25 seconds left in the third period Zach Parise stopped the hearts of Canadians watching everywhere by tying the game up.

It was a pretty uneventful overtime, with no high quality scoring chances, until the 12:30 mark. Every broadcast around the world picked up Crosby calling for a pass, “IGGY!”

Crosby put it through the legs of Ryan Miller and single-handedly united a country. I still get goosebumps from watching those highlights.

I am also a firm believer that this game is what made Canada a flag-bearing country. I felt such immense pride to be a part of this country after that game, words do not even begin to describe the feeling of elation that I and so many others felt when that red light went off. I couldn’t sing our national anthem any louder if I had tried during the medal ceremony.

Marie-Philip Poulin gives Canada gold in Sochi

I know, I know. Another Canada vs USA hockey game – very original.

This game was insane; no other way to describe it. It was the second time the Canadians faced off against the Americans in this tournament and hoo-boy the sequel did not disappoint.

Heading into the third period, the US held a 1-0 lead and would extend that lead very early in that same period. It looked like it would take a miracle to beat Jessie Vetter, the American goaltender, at that point with the way she looked throughout the game.

Hockey is a game of hard work and skill, obviously, but sometimes you need a bounce to go your way. The Canadians got one off the stick of Brianne Jenner when it fluttered into the back of the net with just over three minutes remaining in regulation.

While all of this was going down, I was in my grade 11 English class, half listening to my classmates’ public speeches. I remember telling my teacher Ms. Novek, that “it’s borderline treasonous to not let me watch this game.” After a relatively lengthy argument, she allowed me to watch the remainder of the game in the back of the class if I promised to not disrupt her class and the speeches any longer.

Oh boy was that a mistake.

Marie-Philip Poulin scored in the dying moments of the game, and I stood up and shouted “F*** YEAH!” right in the middle of one of the speeches. I was kicked out of that class and sent to the principal’s office quickly, but I didn’t really care. I booked it to the library where they had a TV to watch the rest of the game with the library staff and other students who were skipping class to watch.

Poulin scored and I jumped into the arms of a kid in grade nine that I had never spoken to before in celebration. That’s the beautiful thing about sports, but more specifically international competition; strangers immediately become friends as you cheer for your country together.

Luckily for me, the principal was a cool guy and didn’t care about me yelling obscenities in class and I got off scot-free.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Laurence Beauregard is chasing her dream

Laurence Beauregard has won for Concordia, but wants to compete at the Olympics

Laurence Beauregard, a wrestler for the Concordia Stingers, had a successful 2018.

In February, she won bronze at the U Sports nationals in Sault Ste-Marie, Ont. She travelled to Lima, Peru in May for the Pan-American Championships and won silver while representing her country. Most recently, Beauregard was one of three Stingers to medal at the 2018 World University Wrestling Championship in Brazil, winning gold in the 59-kilogram category.

The wrestler from Ville-Émard said she’s happy winning a tournament, and knows there’s room for improvement when she doesn’t. “I was happy [winning bronze at nationals] but I was also disappointed because obviously you lose a match when you win that,” Beauregard said. “But I was happy overall with the rest of my tournament; it was a whole learning experience.”

Beauregard joined the Stingers last season after starting wrestling six years ago at Beurling Academy in Verdun. Her sister was the only girl on the school’s wrestling team, and when Beauregard got to high school, the coach asked her to join the team. At the time, she was a synchronized swimmer and refused, but she eventually decided to quit swimming.

“When I decided to stop swimming, I gave most sports at school a try, and so I joined the wrestling team,” Beauregard said. She also tried rugby, football and basketball, and was already playing competitive soccer. At a certain point, she had to choose her favourite sport, which was wrestling.

Even though Beauregard won bronze at nationals last year, the Stingers finished fourth overall. Photo by Cody Spahr/U Sports.

Being physically fit from swimming benefited Beauregard when she transitioned into wrestling. The wrestler also developed good time management skills because of her training with synchro, so she already knew how to balance school and playing a sport.

Now, Beauregard trains twice a day, six times a week, adding up to nearly 30 hours of practice every week. She’s taking three classes this semester, and has to balance her schedule well.

“I try to do my best in school and in my sport,” Beauregard said. “But I would have to say right now wrestling is more my priority because I have a window of opportunities.”

For the past six years, Beauregard has been training with the Montreal Wrestling Club at the George & Eleanor Reinitz Wrestling Centre in Côtes-des-Neiges. Stingers wrestling head coach Victor Zilberman trains wrestlers from the high school level to the university level there, so Beauregard has known him as long as she’s been involved in wrestling.

“It was never really a question of what university I was going to; I knew I was going to Concordia,” Beauregard said. She studied sciences at Vanier, where she was also part of the wrestling team. Originally, Beauregard enrolled in exercise science at Concordia, but a year later, she wants to switch to marketing.

“I love sports so I thought exercise science would be the way to go,” she said. “But doing it hands-on, I didn’t see myself doing it later in life.”

With a potential marketing degree, Beauregard would like to work for organizations that have helped throughout her career as a student-athlete, like Alliance Sport-Études. It’s an organization that helps student-athletes in post-secondary institutions, and Beauregard said she received two bursaries from them.

“I would like to stay with people in sports, but help in a different way than just rehabilitation and exercise science, so maybe do it more from a marketing standpoint,” Beauregard said.

Beauregard’s biggest mentor in her wrestling career has been Martine Dugrenier. She is a physical education teacher at Vanier and an assistant coach with the Stingers, so she’s helped Beauregard a lot through the years. Dugrenier finished fifth at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, and won three gold World Championship medals from 2008 to 2010 in the 63-kilogram weight class.

“I’m lucky that she coaches me sometimes. If she’s at practice, I will go ask her a lot of questions,” Beauregard said. “She’s the one that really got me into wrestling.”

Beauregard said Dugrenier has really helped her develop her strongest tactic, which is leg attacks. Leg attacks, as the name suggests, are when the wrestler takes down their opponent by going after their legs from a standing position. “She was very big on leg attacks,” Beauregard said with a laugh. “Hopefully I’ll have the same wrestling style as she did.”

Like Dugrenier, Beauregard’s dream is to compete in the Olympics. She currently competes in the 59-kilogram weight class, which isn’t an Olympic weight class, so she would need to drop down to the 57-kilogram class.

Beauregard has wrestled for Canada in the past, like at the Pan-American Games and the U-23 Senior World Championships in Bucharest, Romania. Tournaments like these have allowed Beauregard to travel on her own. “Every time it’s a new experience, but you get more used to it, and you learn to deal with your stress better,” she said. “But you still enjoy the magnitude of what it is. I’m just grateful I get these experiences.”

If Beauregard achieves her dream of competing in the Olympics, she might just get to travel to the world.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Colour commentary: Right thing to vote ‘no’ on Calgary Olympics

Hosting an Olympic Games leaves too much debt

On Nov. 13, the citizens of Calgary voted 56 per cent in favour of not bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics in a vote. On Nov. 19, the city council unanimously voted in favour of ending its push to host the Games.

Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, and citizens simply didn’t want to go through the ordeal again. And good for them. It’s time people start to realize just how expensive it is to host the Olympics, all for some athletes, fans, and media to raid a city for two weeks and forget about it after.

According to Forbes, the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, originally had an estimated cost of USD $12.9 billion. The 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, had a total cost of USD $51 billion, according to The Guardian. It’s a good thing Calgarians don’t want that kind of debt.

What is really disappointing is how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) reacted to the results. A spokesperson for the IOC said: “It is disappointing that the arguments about the sporting, social and long-term benefits of hosting the Olympics did not sway the vote.”

Tricia Smith, president of the COC also said this: “Sport in a positive sense really brings a country together.”

Did the IOC and COC seriously just play the “but the Olympics bring people together” card? What’s ridiculous is how they don’t even seem to realize how much they cripple an economy for a sporting event. According to the CBC, after Montreal hosted the Games in 1976, they had a debt of $1.5 billion, which they paid off in 2006—40 years after hosting. That doesn’t seem like the long-term benefit the IOC was talking about. If hosting the Olympics didn’t come with so much debt, sure it would have been great to see Calgary host, but—newsflash—it does.

My favourite headline from this comes from Sportsnet: “Calgary’s ‘No’ vote a squandered opportunity for a city in need.” I didn’t realize Calgary needed billions of dollars of debt.

People who were for hosting the games used the argument that it would have allowed facilities to be built. Many athletic complexes were built in 1988 and need renovating, so they think the only way to do so is by hosting the Olympics. You can upgrade athletic facilities without hosting the Olympics.

More people and cities around the world should realize that hosting the Olympics isn’t all fun and games.


My Olympic Memories: Julie Chu

The four-time Olympian once saw the Games as an “untouchable dream”

During the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, Julie Chu and the rest of the American athletes waited for their turn in the Parade of Nations.

As host country, the United States was the last country in the parade, so Chu—who was 19 years old and competing in her first Olympics for the women’s hockey team—had to wait a while. However, as the athletes lined up outside the Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium where the opening ceremony took place, she could hear the cheers coming from inside.

“There was a moment where you heard [the stadium] absolutely erupt, and we all knew for sure that Greece had just walked in,” Chu said. Greece leads the parade because of the Olympics’ origins in the country. “I think about it now, and I get goosebumps.”

Julie Chu (bottom row, third from left) and the American national team. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Eventually, the American team made their way into the stadium. “Finally, you [enter] and it just opens up,” Chu said. “It’s just bright lights and cheering, and you think, ‘This is pretty cool.’”

Salt Lake City was the first of four Olympic Games for Chu, who is now the head coach of the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team. She is one of three players to have participated in four Olympics for the American women’s team, winning three silver medals and a bronze medal in 2006. Only seven other players have four or more Olympic medals in women’s hockey, including Canadian Caroline Ouellette—the Stingers’ assistant coach—who has four gold medals.

Although Chu watched the Olympics growing up, she said competing in them seemed like an “untouchable dream,” until women’s hockey was included in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

“When women’s hockey was announced as an Olympic sport, it was the first time I had a dream of going to the Olympics,” Chu said. “I wanted to make that Olympic team one day. I don’t know if I had set a goal; 1998 wasn’t on my radar because I was only 15. I probably had visions of 2002, but I didn’t have a time frame. It was more that I wanted to chase after this dream, and hopefully, one day be able to reach it.”

Chu watched on TV as the American team won the inaugural women’s hockey tournament at the 1998 Olympics. While she was watching the Games, her father, Wah, told her, “If you ever make it to the Olympic Games, I’m going to get the Olympic rings [tattooed] on my arm.” Chu said her father is traditional and was against tattoos, so she was shocked when he said that.

Neither Chu nor her father mentioned the tattoo until four years later, when she made Team U.S.A. Just prior to the Olympic Games, Wah followed through on his promise, and then Chu’s mother, brother and sister all said they would get a tattoo of the Olympic rings and her number, 13.

“They told me beforehand that they would get it before the Olympics,” Chu said. “I told them, ‘I don’t want to know, because until I [play], I’m not an Olympian.’” After the Games, Chu also got the Olympic rings tattooed to match the rest of her family.

Through four Olympics, Chu experienced the Games in different corners of the world. She admits that, prior to the 2002 Olympics in the United States, she had hoped to play in a country she had never visited, so she could travel. But Chu quickly realized how special it was to play at home.

“I was young, so getting into it I realized how awesome it really was,” she said. “Playing in Salt Lake City, I had over 30 friends and family [members] come and be a part of the Olympic Games.”

Chu got to travel to Turin, Italy, in 2006, then visit her neighbouring country in Vancouver in 2010, and say goodbye to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. Chu said she experienced a bit of the Italian culture at her second Olympics, but didn’t get to be immersed in the Russian culture at her last Olympics. She said the Olympic village in Turin was in the city, whereas in Sochi, it was an isolated town on its own.

Nonetheless, Chu got to meet athletes from different nations in the dining hall at all four Olympics. Even though each country had its own dorm building in the Olympic village, the dining hall was communal, so Olympians from every sport and country ate together.

“The dining hall is probably the best melting pot of all the nations,” Chu said. “There have been times when we’ve sat down and have had meals with people from different nations […] You’re having a conversation, and get a chance to hear about their journey or about their experience at that Olympic Games.” Chu added that, for the most part, Olympians are fun to be around.

“I’ve met some really amazing people along the way,” she said. “[They] have been on the biggest stage, but at the end of it, they’re hard-working and just chasing their dream and are proud to represent [their country.]”

This year’s Olympics, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be the first in 20 years that Chu won’t compete in. Even though she said not playing for the national team is hard at times, she’s still excited to watch this year’s Games.

“Sometimes we blink and [Sochi 2014] didn’t seem that long ago,” Chu said. “What I tell [my former teammates] is to enjoy the moment, because it goes fast. Let go of the things you can’t control, let go of the external stuff and focus on the moment.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.


Fighting for the Olympic dream

Stingers wrestler Jade Dufour is aiming to win a world title

Most kids play soccer growing up. For Concordia Stingers wrestler Jade Dufour, that didn’t really cut it.

“My parents saw that I was kind of done with it, so they figured they had to find something else,” she said. “They looked into karate. Since then, I’ve always been involved in physical contact sports.”

From mixed martial arts (MMA) to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Dufour’s parents wanted their children to learn how to defend themselves. “Thank God, because I wouldn’t mess with me or my brother,” Dufour said. “I was already used to being hit and being put into awkward positions.”

Making that transition from MMA to wrestling did take some time for Dufour because of the varying techniques and rules. However, once she finally committed to wrestling in high school in Windsor, Ont., she fell in love.

Even though she loved the sport, she hadn’t considered the “Olympic dream” to be a possibility until grade 10, when she attended the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que., and met Martine Dugrenier, a three-time world champion wrestler from Montreal. Dugrenier is now a coach with the Stingers.

“She had come down to Windsor to train with us, and a few of [my teammates] stayed at my house,” Dufour said. “Martine was in my room. This was right after she had competed at the Olympics in London. I was freaking out. She asked, ‘Hey do want to start wrestling at the next level?’ She thought I had potential so I should continue.”

Dufour competed in the 43-kilogram weight class and won gold at that 2013 Canada Summer Games.

Jade Dufour said winning bronze at the 2016 World Junior Wrestling Championship has been her proudest moment as a Stinger. Photo by Brianna Thicke.

When it came time to choosing a university, Dufour said she didn’t hesitate.

“Concordia had the program I liked, which is exercise science, but I loved the technicality of the wrestling club,” Dufour said.

She liked the individual attention that head coach Victor Zilberman put into their training. Working on individual performances while still training as a collective team was something that separated Concordia from other programs she visited.

As an exercise science student, Dufour said she feels like she has used her knowledge in the classroom and has been able to translate it to her work on the mat. Her interest in the topic really began when she fractured her ankle in high school. Dufour went through her physiotherapy rehab, and thought healing a body was interesting. She then enrolled in a kinesiology class in her senior year of high school.

“I can relate to this so much because I am an athlete,” the third-year Stinger said. “I feel like I know what’s happening to my body better. I understand how to cope and prevent injuries myself. The two go together nicely.”

Looking back on three years with the Stingers wrestling team, she counts winning bronze at the 2016 World Junior Wrestling Championship in Macon, France, as one of her proudest moments. Not because of the medal, but because of how she feels she responded to adversity after losing her first match of the tournament.

“I had to do a 360-degree turn in my attitude,” Dufour said. “Getting over that loss and the fact that I was able to get myself prepared and in that zone—I didn’t know if I was going to be able to wrestle. It happened, you can’t go back and change it, and to be honest, I wouldn’t change it.”

Even though this is her third season with the Stingers, outside of school, this is Dufour’s first season wrestling in the senior division against other wrestlers from across the country. In March, Dufour will be competing at the National Championship in Montreal.

At the senior level, there are no beginners. Every athlete wants to make it to the Olympics, and every athlete is competing for a spot on the national team.

“Hopefully I’ll do well in my first senior year,” Dufour said. “To make the Canadian national team against all of the kids who have been wrestling for 16 plus years, it would be something else. I’ve been on the world team at the junior level quite a few times.”

To make the senior roster and join Stingers teammate Laurence Beauregard, Dufour needs to make a smooth transition from the junior division to senior. Doing so would require her to refine the technical elements of her game. In the 48-kilogram division she usually competes in, Dufour is almost always one of the smaller competitors.

“I’m wrestling people who are bigger and stronger, but if I put all the effort in, correct my mistakes and basically give it my all, [I could] become a successful senior athlete and not just a kid who was good at the junior [level],” she said, adding: “I want that Olympic dream.”

Dufour talked about what she needs to practice this season, including attention to detail and total focus during her training. “I’m going to try my [hardest] to make the team,” she said. “However, I still have work to do. I’m not just aiming for a national title; I’m aiming for a world title.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.


Pinning down a winning formula for 40 years

Victor Zilberman has coached the Concordia Stingers wrestling team to six national championships

When Victor Zilberman was 13 years old, he “just wanted to wrestle.” He joined a wrestling club in Moldova, then part of the former Soviet Union. Since then, his wrestling career has taken him across the world. He has also been the head coach of the Concordia Stingers wrestling team for the past 40 years.

In 1972, Zilberman moved from the Soviet Union to Canada to become a wrestling coach at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. At the time, he was still competing professionally. Four years later, Zilberman moved to Quebec to help coach the provincial wrestling program. From there, he volunteered as a coach for Concordia and McGill before deciding to focus on the Stingers program in 1977. He is now one of the premier wrestling coaches in the country.

“I chose Concordia because it was a friendlier staff, more welcoming,” Zilberman said. “I had friends who were working in the athletic department. It was very encouraging.” He has now been a coach at Concordia for four decades, and he takes pride in having been around for so long.

Zilberman boasts a unique resume filled with championships. He won a bronze medal at the 1974 World Championships for Israel, and a silver medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games for Canada.

As a coach, he has led the Concordia Stingers wrestling team to six national championships as well as 65 individual national championship gold medals. Zilberman helped develop five world championship medalists, and he has coached the Canadian national team in four Olympic Games. It seems you can’t look at the wrestling community in Montreal, or in Canada, without finding Zilberman’s name somewhere in the mix.

Dmytriy Gershanov wrestles with Abbas Mohammadian at Victor Zilberman’s wrestling club. Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

As we spoke, Zilberman never took his eyes off the wrestlers training at the Montreal Wrestling Club at the Reinitz Wrestling Centre. He pointed to the pictures that line the walls—all national champions, world champions and Olympians he has trained. His knowledge and education is what differentiates him from other coaches across the country, he said. Zilberman has a degree in physical education from Lakehead University, a master’s in comparative education from McGill, a graduate diploma in sports administration from Concordia and a PhD in education from the Université de Montréal.

“I think that there are not enough coaches who have the qualifications of physical education and sports,” he said. “You learn about physiology, psychology, all those things that contribute to that knowledge.”

Zilberman was in the spotlight recently. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Georges St-Pierre, who trained at Zilberman’s club, gave the coach his championship belt after defeating Michael Bisping in UFC 217. Despite the gift, Zilberman refuses to take responsibility for St-Pierre’s success.

“I had nothing to do with it,” Zilberman said. “It was a huge coincidence. Someone who managed to get as far as he did happened to be in our club with me. I didn’t know [the belt] was that big of a thing. It’s a big honour though, to have someone like that appreciate what you did. He was a perfect gentleman.”

This season, Zilberman has high hopes for the Concordia Stingers wrestling team. He’s expecting the Stingers to compete for a national championship, and to remain one of the top squads in U Sports.

Main photo by Kirubel Mehari.


Healing athletes one injury at a time

Part-time exercise science teacher John Boulay has worked at events like the Olympics and the Francophone Games

Just a few blocks away from Dawson College is the office of Concordia University part-time faculty professor John Boulay. Upon walking in, you are immediately greeted by a plastic spine in the corner of the room and the helmet of former Montreal Canadiens player Bob Gainey hanging on a coat rack by the door with a laser pointer attached to it.

The combination may be odd but it’s all part of his work. When Boulay isn’t teaching, he works as an osteopath and an athletic therapist at Osteo Med-Sport in Montreal, a clinic that specializes in injury rehabilitation and health maintenance.

Boulay said, while holding his Bob Gainey helmet with pride, that the helmet and the laser pointer are used on patients who are recovering from concussions. Essentially, the patient puts on the helmet and has to keep the laser pointer within a small circle. It’s a test to see if the patient is regaining their balance.

In terms of his teaching career, Boulay said he teaches what he knows. For the last 20 years, he has been a part-time exercise science teacher at Concordia, the same school he got his degree from.

“I was taking my classes at Loyola in the brand new exercise science program,” Boulay said. “Before I got there, the program was called biophysical education.”

Boulay knew he wanted to get into athletic therapy after injuring his knee in high school. He was a football player at the time and the athletic therapist for the team was one of his grade 10 classmates. Boulay said he thought his classmate’s skillset was interesting, and kept the profession in the back of his mind.

“I was thinking of getting into medicine at the time,” Boulay said. “I applied for medicine and didn’t get in so I figured I would do an undergraduate in something that would be fun. So I picked the new exercise science program at Concordia, did it in three years and never went back.”

After graduating from Concordia, Boulay said there were only about two or three athletic therapists in the province at the time. This lack of therapists led Boulay and some friends he graduated with to open up their own clinic near the Olympic Stadium. However, as Boulay described it, politics and paperwork kept the clinic from opening.

Despite not opening the clinic at the stadium, Boulay was able to open one at Concordia, where he spent nearly a decade. The clinic at Concordia was called the Concordia University Sports Medicine Clinic and was open to the entire population of Montreal.

“We were asked to open the clinic but we were also asked to teach some undergraduate courses,” Boulay said. “We were just fresh out of our bachelors with no teaching degree. I was teaching kids the same age as me so I told them, ‘You don’t have to call me Mr. Boulay. You better call me John.’”

When Boulay and his partners opened the clinic, there were six national Olympic teams stationed in Montreal at the time, including the judo team, the wrestling team and the diving team. Since their clinic was the only clinic in Montreal, they became the go-to place for any national team athletes who were injured or needed care.

Of all of the teams, Boulay worked with the judo team the most and ended up working with them full-time for 22 years. During those 22 years, he was the Chair of the Sports Medicine and Science Committee for Judo Canada from 1985 to 2008.

“I went from provincial to national to international tournaments,” Boulay said. “I also went to the Olympics and the Pan Am Games. It was just a case of right place, right time and right opportunity.”

Boulay’s first experience with international competition was at the first-ever Francophone Games in Casablanca, Morocco in 1989. He explained that, at the time, the judo team’s budget was low, which meant he was the last line of defence if an athlete got injured.

“We were in the middle of the desert half the time,” Boulay said. “Honestly, it was quite rural and very backwards.”

After having gone to so many international competitions, Boulay said his favourite was by far the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia. He said he and his colleagues “had a ton of fun” over the 13 days, as they got to experience a new culture and exchange therapy techniques with trainers from other countries.

Boulay said the 2000 Olympics were also different from more recent ones because there wasn’t as much security present.

“It was a very innocent time,” Boulay said. “We’re talking about pre-9/11 so there was less security and everyone wanted to have fun and embrace the world. Everything was really open and friendly and we could visit the other mission houses.”

Aside from working with national teams, Boulay has collaborated with NHL and CFL teams. While he hasn’t treated the athletes directly, he has worked with the therapists who help rehabilitate the athletes.

According to Boulay, the teams don’t want their players to visit private clinics. However, some doctors are always looking for better ways to treat athletes and he has been able to give advice when doctors come knocking on his door.

“Usually, we get called in to consult when something bad happens,” Boulay said. “The first time I was called in to work with the NHL was when Richard Zednik of the Montreal Canadiens suffered a spinal injury. We’ve been helping the Montreal Canadiens’ guys for a few years now.”

Boulay’s career in athletic therapy led him to become the founding president of the Quebec Sports Medicine Council. He said his goal in creating the council was to bring athletic therapists together so that they could work as a team instead of as competition.

The council discusses ways to improve how athletic therapists perform their jobs. One issue they have all come together on is concussions and how to better treat athletes who suffer from them.

“Go back to the 1990s—concussions weren’t on anybody’s radar,” Boulay said. “[Athletic therapists] used to pull athletes out of competitions when they got concussions. The coaches would hate us, and it took three deaths for them to finally start listening to us.”

For the last 14 years, Boulay has been teaching the Advanced Emergency Care in Sport course, which teaches students how to react and take care of athletes who have sustained an injury.

He and one of his colleagues have collaborated on the course, with Boulay taking care of the theory aspect and his partner working on the more practical side of the course.

This year, however, Boulay found out he would not be teaching the course. According to Boulay, the exercise science program decided to take three courses from the curriculum and assign them to a teacher undergoing a limited-term appointment (LTA), which is a term that usually lasts three years.

“They decided to take a recent graduate who just finished their master’s and dumped our three courses on this poor person,” Boulay said. “I wish them well but it took me 13 years to figure out how to teach one course and I’ve been in the business 30 years. It’s a hard assignment.”

Boulay explained that, as a part-time faculty teacher, he realizes there are campus politics, especially when it comes to issues like LTAs. He said it can be frustrating when part-time faculty members have their courses taken away because by the time the replacement’s term has ended, the old teachers are off doing something else.

Despite losing his class this year, Boulay still teaches. However, he has to travel a bit farther as he now works at the Univsersité de Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) and the Université de Sherbrooke. At UQTR, Boulay teaches two courses in their new exercise science program, and at Sherbrooke, he teaches sports care and first response.

Boulay said he’s able to balance his workload between Osteo-Med Sport and teaching because he has a passion for it.

“During the semester, I’ll take two mornings off of my clinic and actually lose money because my practice makes more money than teaching classes,” Boulay said. “But I do it because I love it. It’s not about money, it’s about giving back.”

He also added that what he teaches can help people in life or death situations which, for him, is important.

“Rule number one in my classes is that you’re going to encounter some deaths and my second rule is that you can’t change rule number one,” Boulay said. “Then there’s rule number three, which is that if we do our jobs right, we can lessen the amount of deaths we encounter and that’s really what it’s all about.”

Watch our extended video interview with John Boulay below.

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