Music

Weightlifter Maude Charron is not only an Olympic gold medallist, she's also an oboist

As her band teacher recalls, Charron excelled in both sports and music at her high school in Rimouski, Que.

As her band teacher recalls, Charron excelled in both sports and music at her high school in Rimouski, Que.

Maude G. Charron of Canada competes in the women's 64kg weightlifting event, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) (Luca Bruno/The Associated Press)

On Tuesday, Canada's Maude Charron won a gold medal in the women's 64-kilogram weightlifting competition at the Tokyo Games.

It turns out the 28-year-old from Rimouski, Que., has another skill: playing the oboe.

Teenaged Maude Charron poses with her oboe. (Submitted to Radio-Canada by Marie-Anick Arsenault)

"She spent her afternoons in music class, and at 4 p.m., as the other students headed home, she went to the gymnasium to train," recalls Marie-Anick Arsenault in a French-language Radio-Canada testimonial. She was Charron's music teacher and bandleader at Rimouski's Paul-Hubert High School. "She was the best gymnast in the area — all the while taking advanced math and science courses."

Charron would turn to weightlifting in later years, but as an adolescent gymnast, she was attracted to music upon seeing her older brother, Dominic, play in his high school band.

"When she finished her second year of high school, the summer before she entered my school band, she called me. She wanted to borrow an oboe for the summer," says Arsenault. "Can you imagine? Already at the start of secondary school, she had chosen the oboe, which I consider the most difficult among wind instruments. Many try it, but few persevere."

By the fall, Charron had learned to play the instrument well enough to join the school's band. "To her, what is difficult just seems like a challenge. You just have to work on it, put the effort into it and you will succeed," Arsenault reflects. "Whether with an oboe or a barbell in her hands, she moves forward."

For three years, Charron played oboe under Arsenault's direction, even playing a solo during a band trip to Florida. "It was a tall order for a girl who had been playing the oboe for such a short time, but she played the solo beautifully," remembers Arsenault.

Upon graduation, Charron discovered weightlifting through CrossFit and went on to win gold medals at both the Commonwealth Games and Pan American championships before her success at the Tokyo Games.

"I always cry when I see her competing," admits Arsenault. "When I see her gaze, she's so focused, determined.... Time seems to stand still and I see her again sitting in front of me with her oboe, and that same gaze, deep and luminous."

Read Arsenault's complete French-language testimonial here.

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