Femme Forte -a shero story

As I anxiously wait for my sister to compete in New Delhi in Olympic weightlifting during the Commonwealth Games, I am wondering how she is feeling, what her surroundings are like, what is she thinking about, is there someone to support her with a kind smile in this foreign part of the world where competition is fierce and furious? Maybe a cute and kind boy?

Is her body compromised in any way? I couldn’t imagine this being one of the biggest days of my life only to wake up with a period. Who thinks of these things? Apparently I do. As much as I respect a period’s power, you best be very far from India, period.

So who is this Femme Forte? MJ is a very private individual which makes it challenging to write openly about her in a way where I can hopefully achieve giving her justice the way she gives justice to life. I shall try tres fort to share this story honouring her without dishonouring her privacy.

She, like many athletes have dedicated a life time to the world of sports.  She started with figure skating where her strength beat her grace as she fell out of a jump and landed chin first on hard ice. She received many stitches and was extremely lucky not to break her neck. Her next sport career: Speedskating, where power meets the need for speed.

She trained at the Oval arena in Calgary for many years where she met a dear-dear friend named Politics. I call “it” a dear-dear friend because “it” has since never left her side. “It” has been with her every step of the way, even when she is to pee on demand for drug testing no matter what she was in the middle of doing in her daily life. I can’t imagine peeing on demand in the middle of a midterm only to have someone stare at my pee hole. Geesh really! Really.

I could go on about “it”, “it” could actually take up pages of writing, however “it” gets easily offended and upset potentially making it worse for her so I shall leave “it” out, out of consideration for my sister.  She just may decide to introduce “it” to others one day, I look forward to this day.

When “it” and her became too close she decided to move into weightlifting. The fact that you could train for this sport out of your basement really appealed to her. She literally trained this way on more than a few occasions, in basements, garages and outdoors, mostly on her own.

One of her biggest challenges was finding a good coach. You would think there are plenty out there but really there aren’t. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard trying to find one on the National and International scene. She researched them from sport books to phone books. And forget about finding a womyn weightlifting coach …. not an option. Perhaps she will fill that gap one day. Something that would indeed have a great influence on minimizing sexism in this sport. A whole other story in itself.

MJ has pretty much been her own coach for about half the time she has been training in Olympic Weightlifting. I can’t imagine training at this level with such big weights and coaching myself, being my own manager and pretty much my own agent too. Meanwhile also keeping up with studies and working on the side bringing me to the topic of her next challenge: funding.

This country is really weak when it comes to knowing how to invest in their athletes. Our government cares so much about receiving shiny medals in the ‘big’ Olympics and other International Games however when it comes down to it those who usually get funded seem to be those who get along with “it” the best and even then you may be a starving athlete who relies heavily on a nourished body to support its performance growth.

Throughout all these challenges MJ has persevered and accomplished one of the greatest things in my eyes: staying true to who she is. Even if these challenges and many others sucked all the energy she had within her, she never gave up being authentic, never adapted her personality for the sole purpose of fitting a certain stereotype, never pretended to be someone she wasn’t even if it meant making her life easier. Sometimes I have to admit I wish she did change some of her ways because I saw the stress this created for her but in the end there is such great value in her ethics. It is these ethics and values that have got her to where she is without using anything or anyone against her will to get there. It is this that has inspired so many around her to believe you can accomplish great things being yourself. An inspiration we do not see often, a unique and authentic one that reminds us about the true meaning of being true to yourself and others.

It really sadden me not to be there with her tonight cheering her on in person. I know she can do it on her own because she has done it mostly on her own all this way. I wish kind eyes and warm smiles find her and surround her on this great day in her life.

WHAT A SHERO!!!!

She is competing second in her group at 2:30 am Eastern canadian time on October 8th

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1 Comment

  1. I have a ton of respect for Olympic Weightlifters, much more than bodybuilders and one day I hope to have even decent technique to train my athletes with. But while she may be your hero, you are quite hero material as well dear!!! Hope all is well and take care Sophie!


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