This article is part of the exclusive Yahoo! How to Raise an Olympian series. We spoke to Olympic athletes and their parents to gain unique insights into the beginnings of the careers of top athletes. See the interview in the video here – please press the “CC” button for German subtitles:
Tammara Thibeault wants to become the first Canadian female boxer to win an Olympic medal. Her career began when she saw her father box when she was nine.
In the Thibeault family, the motto always applied to all six family members: Nothing is inaccessible.
Tammara Thibeault, second of Patrick and Judeline Thibeault’s four children, will represent Canada in boxing at the 2020 Olympic Games and wants to show the world that she has really used her talent.
“The most important goal is to realize my full potential,” says Tammara Thibeault. “Because that’s what sport is about, isn’t it? Realizing your potential to the full, and very few succeed in that.”
Tammara Thibeault also wants to reach the top in boxing. “I want to bring a gold medal back to Canada and be the first woman to do it,” she says.
So far, no female boxer from Canada has won a medal since boxing for women was added to the program of the Games in 2012. Tammara Thibeault, who won bronze at the 2019 World Championships, is ideally positioned to make history.
Tammara Thibeault inherited her love for boxing from her father Patrick, who can look back on an impressive sports career. In 2001 Patrick won the Vanier Cup, the championship in Canadian university football, with the team from St. Mary’s in Halifax (Nova Scotia). He was then signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League CFL and played for three seasons in the position of wide receiver.
After his football career, Patrick turned to boxing. Of course, he couldn’t have known at the time, but his decision to step into the ring would later inspire his daughter.
“[Patrick] was an athlete in his youth, like I am now, “says Tammara Thibeault.” I always looked up to him. And one day I saw him in one of his fights. My mother took us all to a small town called Swift Current. This was the first time I saw my father in a fight and he just beat up the other guy. I thought that was just cool. “
“I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how, but I want to do that too.’ It’s probably weird for a nine-year-old to think that, but it looked so impressive and it looked really cool. I always looked up to my father, he works hard and was a very successful athlete. I admired that a lot. “
However, Tammara’s mother Judeline was initially not thrilled when her daughter decided to box.
“I don’t like to see her boxing,” said Judeline. “At the beginning I told her that if you stop boxing, I’ll buy you something. I’ve tried to find other activities for her, but it’s her passion and so I should stand by her and support her.”
“I first really realized that boxing is her passion when she came back from the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. She came back with two blue eyes and a puffy nose and she smiled like this was the best day of her life” she continues. “As a mother, I was proud, but at the same time angry at her opponent, who had beaten up Tammara.”
While boxing wasn’t Judeline’s first choice for Tammara, there’s no question that she fully supports her daughter. “When I understood that this was her passion, the motto was to be fully committed and not stop until the goal was achieved,” she says. “It’s not about my goals, not the goals of the coach, but their goals. And we simply support them in doing so.”
Tammara Thibeault says of herself that she was an “intense” child and she has this quality in everyday life too. For example, she speaks three languages fluently: English, French and Spanish. She was born in St. Georges, Quebec, so she grew up speaking English and French, but her determination and dedication to learning Spanish made a huge impression on her family.
“I saw her sitting at the kitchen table ordering books, a Spanish book on Amazon,” says Patrick. “That day she decided to learn Spanish and now she is fluent in Spanish, French and English. All of this is thanks to this talent and attitude to work.”
In addition, Tammara Thibeault has been a vegetarian since 2018. This decision requires a lot of self-discipline and control, especially since she ate a lot of meat when she was young. But Tammara and her parents have found that she has made great strides in boxing since changing her eating habits.
At the age of 24, Tammara Thibeault took part in the Olympic Games for the first time and the virtues that her parents taught her: passion, hard work, intensity and discipline will help her on the big stage of sport.
And never forget: Nothing is out of reach.