Tokyo Games: Joelle Bekhazi, a worthy obstacle course

Tokyo | Despite deep disappointments and many pitfalls, the Olympic flame that has flown Joel Bakhazi since 2005 has never been extinguished and her dream will finally come true on Saturday, when Canada plays their first match in the group stage of the Water Championships. Polo vs Australia.

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“It’s been 16 years since I’ve run after my dream,” sums up the 34-year-old polo player, who has not seen her husband since the team’s departure on May 14.

“I have a different life than my younger colleagues, but I didn’t have a choice although it was difficult. Even in Montreal since last January, I only saw my husband four days a month because we formed a bubble in order to be able to do group training and not just swim sessions.”


Bekhazi was able to count on the support of her fencing husband, Etienne Lalonde Torpedo, who competed in the 2012 London Games.

“Because he’s been into the games himself, it’s easy to understand, but he also knows that I’m dedicated to my sport and that nothing can stop me.”


Bekhazi still remembers the very painful defeats that encouraged his career with the national team, whose last participation in the Games dates back to 2004 in Athens.

“Losing the penalty shootout for the Americans in 2011 is still very painful,” she said. I had taken the last shot that came to rest on the post and heard the American crowd screaming in celebration of victory. It was the longest match in the world.”

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And their best ever against the Americans, the sport’s global powerhouse.

“We were leading 7-4 after three periods and the regular time ended in a 8-8 draw.”

medicine aside

After unsuccessful attempts to qualify for the 2008 and 2012 games, Bakhazi had to make an important decision.

“I left my dream of pursuing my medical studies aside,” she says.

“My dream of competing in the Games was too big to give up. During that Olympic cycle, we had an American coach who was very tough and he wasn’t “fit” for Canada. I knew three coaches during this cycle and we didn’t qualify.”

A useful FINA decision

Believing her Olympic dream had died out and her desire to retire just as her husband had done at the same time, Joel Bakhazi nonetheless wanted to stay with the team after the 2016 Olympics to help the new generation of girls by passing on her knowledge. • Seeing the game.

A decisive decision would convince her to pursue her career.

“fine [Fédération internationale de natation] She decided to add two women’s teams to the Olympic tournament for a total of 10, she explains. Then it was impossible not to stay with the national team. We were finally able to qualify for the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru. I will never forget this moment that I have been waiting for 15 years. I was crying and I was in shock.”

In Tokyo, Christina Ologbo would think. Arriving with the national team around the same time as her in 2005, her teammate accepted an offer to coach in Italy after postponing the Games for a year.

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“I will also think of all the girls from the previous three cycles who never fulfilled their dream,” she says.

He would only miss the presence of his parents until the orthopedic student was completely satisfied. “When we heard that foreigners would not be accepted at the Games, my mother told me that attending the Olympics was her dream too. It devastated me to hear it. Not seeing them in the stands would be a huge shock. In 15 years of working my parents missed the World Championships. They lived everything with me. “.


At long last, Bekhazi did not appear as a tourist in Japan.

“We’re aiming for the platform,” she says. It will be very difficult, but realistic. We are not in Tokyo to participate. The United States has another tag, but it’s very tough for the other nine teams.”

After beating Hungary and Russia in the qualifiers, Canada lost to the same competitors in the medal round to take 4.e Arrange during the World Championships final in Greece a few weeks ago.

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