Models to motivate and inspire us!

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Over the past few weeks, young women have taken pride of place in the media. Montreal, with its Women's Professional Hockey League team, is showcasing some of the best female field hockey players in the world. It's easier than ever to see these models of perseverance and determination in person. Finally, many would say, it's about time!


By Laurier Thériault

Our metropolis has always been a fertile breeding ground for exceptional female athletes and personalities. How many Nadias in Quebec owe their first name to the famous Nadia Comaneci, the great star of the 1976 Olympic Games? Just a few years later, in a Quebec still learning the ropes of sport, we remember Jacqueline Gareau 's exceptional performance at the Boston Marathon. This petite athlete went on to become one of Quebec's leading sportswomen. In the early 1980s, another Quebec native moved to Montreal to perfect her sport. She would take her place on the top step of the podium, this time in the diving competition at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Sylvie Bernier would later say that she turned daily to a small piece of paper taped to her fridge to remind herself of her ultimate goal: to win the Olympics. For many years afterwards, she brilliantly took advantage of every platform to remind people of the importance of an active lifestyle for all, but especially for girls, who are still too quick to give up or too often shy away from sport.

The models of determination and perseverance are numerous and always deserve to be highlighted. Sylvie Fréchette made Olympic history in Barcelona. Still active today, she heads an artistic swimming club, the sport that propelled her into our collective history. Nathalie Lambert and Isabelle Charest, our current Minister of Sport, are other examples of women who have experienced Olympic glory and continue to play important roles in our society. What can we say of Chantal Petitclerc, a senator who has made her mark pushing her wheelchair in para-athletics competitions all over the world? Martine Dugrenier, for her part, made her mark on the books of Olympic wrestling on the international scene. Even today, she spends countless hours passing on her passion for the sport to future generations, boys and girls alike.

In the wake of the introduction of our new field hockey team, a whole contingent of young professionals are also taking advantage of this opportunity to assume responsibilities in the development and realization of high-level sport. Special greetings to Marie-Christine, Stéphanie, Rosalie, Elizabeth and co. It's also a source of inspiration. This July, Brigitte Légaré, now a renowned manager who began her career here in Montreal as a trainee and has more than a dozen international events in her portfolio, will carry the torch for the Paris Olympics. She was chosen by her peers on the organizing committee to represent them at this highly symbolic moment. It's another fine mark of recognition for an exceptional expertise that originated in our own backyard and serves as a model for many others.

On Saturday, January 13, Montreal welcomed Boston for its inaugural match. The red carpet was rolled out for Kim St-Pierre, Caroline Ouellette, France St-Louis and Danièle Sauvageau, who fittingly closed the parade. The fireworks, the light shows, the presentation of these builders and our team players justified all the thrills. Present in the stands, there was no question of Maude missing this match. However, she had to leave a little early. She had a training session in a few minutes. Her dream: Los Angeles 2028. Her sport is emerging and remains her greatest motivation. Maude had come to get a bit of adrenaline by watching Marie-Philip and Anne-Renée before going to her training session.

Models of perseverance and determination are important and nourish us all a little... Well done girls! Well done ladies! For all those Danièle, Francine, Rhéa and Brigitte, thank you for so many hours devoted to sport and for all the energy you so generously share!