Martine Dugrenier is a retired Canadian wrestler and a physical education teacher at Vanier College.
As a teenager, Martine was a gymnast who aimed to get a scholarship to study in the United States. However, Martine fractured her knee which made her stay in Montreal and study at Vanier College. After taking a wrestling class at Vanier College, her teacher who was a national coach saw that she has a great physical ability, and convinced Martine to join the wresting team and compete for Concordia University team when she graduated from Vanier. Martine began to practice wrestling which helped her win at the provincials. Being part of the Montreal Wrestling Club in 1997, Martine was sent to the nationals where she won her first bronze medal.
After Martine’s graduation from Vanier College in 1999, she became a full time student at Concordia University in the Athletic Therapy program. In her first year, Martine came third at the University Canadian Championships and then she came fifth in the second year. She continued to win competitions in Concordia and she was Concordia’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004.
Martine’s dedication as a wrestler grew after beating the athlete who was qualified for the Olympics in 2004. She later won a gold medal at the World University Championships. Martine came second at the World Championships in 2005, 2006, 2007 consecutively. At the Olympic Games in 2008, Martine missed the medal by only three seconds and lost the semi-finals. Six weeks after the Olympic Games, Martine competed in the World Championships at 67-kilogram where she won her first world championship. She continued winning each year and became a world champion in 2009 and 2010.
Martine’s inspiring journey as a wrestler was about to end in 2011 after discovering that she had calcium deposit on her bone. However, she was qualified for the Olympics in 2012, so she participated in the games and finished fifth, losing the bronze medal. Martine says that she did not feel discouraged, because being at the Olympics despite having problems in her arm was like a miracle.
When asked about having moments of feeling incompetent before competing against other athletes, Martine responded by saying that “you learn that you also have great abilities, its like a chess game; the person has to think about how they can beat their opponent”. She then added “make sure that your weaknesses are stopped and go with your own strengths”. She also believes that it is important for a person to be able to adapt their mindset and know what they are able to do. For Martine, having a strategy is necessary when planning to win a match. One of the challenges she faced in her career as wrestler was being able to adapt during matches where she was required to be mentally flexible before making any action.
Martine Dugrenier officially retired in 2015 at the age of 36. However, she was not competing since 2012. Martine became a physical education teacher at Vanier College in 2009, and she feels very proud that everything started at Vanier. She is thankful for Victor Zilberman who encouraged her to do her second bachelor as a physical education teacher and was constantly supporting her.
As a teacher, Martine feels that she is giving back to Vanier students. She says that the wrestling class at Vanier “helps students get out of their comfort zone which allows them to discover new things about themselves”. She believes that the class gives “students an unforgettable experience because they will learn how to overcome being scared of doing something without fearing failure”.
Martine’s inspiring wrestling career and achievements will always be reflected in her gym classes as she continues to help students learn and improve their physical abilities.
Written by: Lara Kaafarani
Image: Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press