Olympians are special. Representing the pinnacle of competition, Olympians are the peak form of athletes, be it thousands of years ago in Ancient Greece or today’s modern athlete. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard is one of those athletes. Representing Canada, Beauchemin-Pinard immortalized hersel at the 2020 Olympic Games by taking home bronze in judo.
Watch or listen to the full interview with Catherine Beauchemin-Picard on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts!
Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard and Judo
Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard started judo like many young kids start in many sports. Her parents were just looking for her to stay active. There was no glory bound ideologies for the Olympic Games or anything, that was just a product of the years of work put in by Beauchemin-Pinard.
“I was really not in shape when I was young. I was doing something for five minutes and dying in the corner. My parents not thinking I will do a common sport, I was more artistic like art. My sister was doing soccer and my brother was doing taekwondo. So I tried a few things and I didn’t like it that much. I told my mom I want to do Judo. She didn’t think I would like it but I started loving it and get in shape and get in competitions and now I’m here!”
With her brother being a taekwondoin, I asked Beauchemin-Pinard on what sparring was like between the two. “He tried judo too and he really liked it. It was hard to throw him because he knew how to play.”
Beauchemin-Pinard has a real good ne-waza game, which is the ground game in judo. While she has done a bit of boxing, judo has been the mainstay. With her ground game, she has interest in trying out Jiu Jitsu as a natural extension of that.
“I would like to try Jiu Jitsu. I really like ne-waza, it’s one of my favorite parts. I try a little bit boxing but just to try it. It wasn’t like a real fight. But I didn’t really try any other sports.”
Catherine Beauchemin-Picard At The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard first represented Canada at the Olympic Games in 2016. She’s had both modern Olympic experiences. In 2016 in Rio, she had the full Olympic experience with fans, the Olympic Village and the whole nine yards. In 2021, the Pandemic Games where she was in a bubble the entire time.
“The first time I represented my country was in Rio in 2016. I feel it was two different experiences because COVID. We couldn’t stay after in Tokyo. But just going there to be proud and representing Canada and doing something for Canada was nice.”
The lockdown was not easy for Beauchemin-Pinard. But she took time off to get a leg up on her competition by training in any area that she could.
“During the first lockdown, it was six months and was so long. It was before the date of the Olympics. They postponed it so I was okay and would be okay to train for the Olympics. During the first lockdown I needed to find something to train. So I was running, circuits in my condo, using my boyfriend a little bit but he didn’t like it that much,” Beauchemin-Pinard said with a laugh. “I was trying to do my best in my home. After that we could come back to the training center with so much rules at first. We used to have so many more partners with diversity and different styles of judo. But now you’re training with the same style. It’s started to be annoying. But we tried to make it more interesting. We did that first and just before the Olympics, we started an Olympic bubble with 25 athletes. This was nice but still there was not that many girl partners. I was fighting a lot with the boys for a while. We trained like that and we tried to do the best we have for the Olympics.”
All of that hard work paid off. Leaving Tokyo with a bronze medal was one of the best things she’s ever experienced. Even more, Beauchemin-Pinard says it’s vindicated the hard work, time spent and more from her loved ones.
“It’s so much emotion coming. All that day you keep that emotion in because my day’s not done. I need to keep going and I need to keep doing another fight. So you don’t let yourself go that much. After the last one you’re like my day is finished! I did it, my bronze medal!’ It’s so much emotion. Before the fight I was like, ‘If I win the fight I can grab it and put it on the neck of my father and show it to my mother and my boyfriend and be like, ‘You see, I did it!'”
With an Olympic medal being such a big thing, any time one is brought home, the Olympian is almost always asked to see the medal. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard says she’s no different and enjoys showing it off!
“If they ask, I’m like sure if I have it around me. I try to have it all the time with me to show it to my friends and some people that want to see it. It’s the beauty of the medal. People want to see it so why would I keep it to myself. So like yesterday, I went on a bike ride with friends and I bring it and I knew some of my friends would want to see it.”
As for 2024, many already have eyes on the next Olympic Games. With it being a short, 3 year cycle, many athletes are stretching their careers to make the next Games. Beauchemin-Pinard was considering retirement before 2020 but with the next Games being pushed back a year, she’s reconsidering that decision and is taking it a year at a time.
“I don’t know. Before the Olympics, in 2020, I was thinking to stop after this Olympics. But now, with my third place, I’m like, ‘Well if I can go in three years, I can do better.’ In Paris, the people love judo there. It would be nice to finish with a real Olympic Games. But, I don’t know. I will do one year at a time. I will see.”
Beauchemin-Pinard vs. Georges St-Pierre in Judo?
With Beauchemin-Pinard representing Canada in a combat sport, I had to ask a question related to MMA hall of famer, Georges St-Pierre. I asked her if the two were to do one judo match, not MMA, but strictly judo, does Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard think she could throw GSP?
With a giant smile she said, “If he doesn’t kick and box, just judo, maybe. He’s bigger than me, but I will try for sure. I will try to see if I can do it.”
Regardless of what career path Catherine takes, she’s already accomplished more than 99% of humans in history have. Winning a medal in the Olympic Games will be something her family speaks of for generations to come.