The Olympic dream is not only the prerogative of athletes. After just over 30 years working in softball, Geneviève Gaudreau tested the franchise as a referee at the Tokyo Games.
Originally from Saint-Rédempteur, on the south shore of Quebec, he was nine years old when little Geneviève fell into a softball bowl.
She participated as a player in several Canadian championships, notably winning the silver medal with the Quebec team in 1989. Not satisfied after her career in this field, she pursued her passion as a coach and referee.
In 2006, she achieved Level 5, the nation’s highest certification for softball referee. The wait took 15 years, but the Olympic baggage she just passed through is already stored in a drawer of indelible memories.
“The Olympic dream is not just for athletes. Being on the field makes you an Olympian and no one can take you away from you. There is a lot of pride and honor that comes with that. The experienced lady, who was accompanied to Tokyo by another Canadian referee, Albertan Frankie Billingsley, said that The experience I was looking for, I take back to our province and my country.
For Genevieve Goudreau, the opportunity was unique. Women’s softball has not appeared at games since 2008 in Beijing. The sport will not be on the program in Paris in 2024. There is still hope in Los Angeles in 2028, but time is running.
“It was the window to go. In eight years, I think I would be too old for the selection criteria. I am so glad the opportunity presented itself.
“In 2016, they announced that softball was coming back. I knew the possibilities were there. I kept working hard and saw good progress. When you do this because it’s your passion, it comes out through every pore of your skin and people see it. I found myself competing at the highest level on this planet and I feel very proud.”
bigger than life
The referee’s long record has already included 23 national events and dozens of international events, including the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
Nothing compares, however, to what I witnessed during the Olympic tournament in Tokyo.
“The main difference is the scale of the event. When they present the referees before the match with your name on the board and the Olympic rings above, you realize that is the highest level an official can reach.”
If you act as a referee, it was a simple spectator that Gaudreau witnessed one of the most intense moments of the tournament, when the Canadians won the bronze medal by eliminating the Mexicans by 3 to 2.
It is clear that the referees from a country participating in the match are not in their position, to avoid possible friction.
“The other Canadian referee and I went to the sidelines in the last game. I talk about it and get emotional again. It was really nice to see them win. It’s a huge part of developing women’s sport in the country.”
Honor to judge in the final
Genevieve Goudreau will not soon forget her participation in the Olympic final between Japan and the United States, a match that she managed for the first place.
But long before she staged that fourth Olympic title for the Japanese after being crowned in 1996, 2000 and 2004, Lévisienne experienced her share of emotion by hopping on the field since the tournament’s inception.
“The final is a favorite match for the referees, but I would say that achieving the opening match on the pitch was an important moment as well.
“It’s been 12 years since there has been softball in the games. We knew there was going to be media attention because we started before the other competitions. I thought it was big. What had to happen, a controversial tackler! I called her,” Goudreau said. It gave her a good starting point.
The latter was also tested at will during the duel between Australians and Mexicans. The stakes were high, as the winners then found themselves facing the Canadians for the bronze medal.
“I was also at home and the coaches experienced all the tough decisions in such a context,” she said.
So the Quebec referee in the first matches was able to relieve the tension in order to experience the full moment of the Grand Final.
“Once I reached the final, I already experienced a lot of strong emotions and felt confident. We were especially proud to have found ourselves in a women’s sport final with five officials. The rivalry between Japan and the United States has been going on for years and it was good to be a part of the competition,” Goudreau said. that moment”.
After a few days of hindsight since returning home, a teacher who also works as a physical education teacher can’t help but rejoice.
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