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The French Shop backs three young Olympic hopefuls

November 2022

Promoting well-being, both physical and mental, is one of The French Shop’s core values. That’s why we’re proud to announce that we’re sponsoring three young Olympic hopefuls: Brayan Ibanez and Emily Ibanez in weightlifting, and Catherine Léger in handball.

Brayan Ibanez is a versatile young athlete who started weightlifting when he was just a toddler. At seven years old, he turned his attention to gymnastics and ended up winning the Canadian championship title. After his early success as a gymnast, Brayan returned to weightlifting, his first love.

Competing in the Olympics has been Brayan’s dream since he was a small child. Now 16 years old and with a number of medals under his belt, he has one all-consuming goal: to make it to the Paris Olympics in 2024. After his third-place victory at the recent World Youth Weightlifting Championship (73 kg), Brayan is now preparing for the Pan American Championships next April in Argentina. His aim is to finish in the top five, or even the top three, in order to qualify for the Olympics. With a team of skilled coaches (the key to success, according to Brayan), he’s moving steadily towards his goal while never forgetting the importance of having fun.

At just 11 years old, Emily Ibanez is another young athlete making a name for herself in the world of weightlifting. Initiated into the sport at the tender age of seven, she has given memorable performances and continues to win medals. One of her most remarkable achievements was being named the US Under-13 Champion (55 kg). Seeing herself as extremely competitive, Emily says that she’s her own biggest rival. She trains five to six days a week, constantly pushing herself to achieve better results, and has her sights set on winning another medal at next year’s US championship. Emily hopes to make it to the Olympics one day but, until then, she continues to perfect her technique while becoming a better (and stronger!) competitor.

Along with being a handball fanatic, Catherine Léger is project manager and production coordinator at The French Shop. Catherine’s tremendous athletic talents have earned her a spot on Team Canada, which just recently returned from the United States and has qualified for its first Olympic Games. The team will be heading to the Pan American Games next year in Chile.

Catherine’s love for handball (a little known sport in Québec) dates back to when she was 12 years old, when her brother introduced her to the team sport. From her early days on the school’s extracurricular team, to training camps with provincial teams, to a three-year stay in France, she now devotes 15 to 20 hours a week to training. Simply put, Catherine is always looking for ways to be the best she can be. Making it to the Olympics is obviously one of her goals, but her even greater hope is that women’s handball will one day gain prominence in the province. Women’s handball teams in Québec struggle with limited resources, but the athletes themselves play with unbelievable passion and commitment. As Catherine says, “When you really love something, it can open every door. You can’t buy that kind of passion.” And a door has indeed opened: Catherine’s team is headed to the Olympic Games.

The French Shop feels passionate about promoting young athletes and supporting them in achieving their goals. “We want to give young athletes and our own employees the opportunity to participate in sports. It’s important to us that we invest in their future and provide them with the necessary tools to grow and succeed in all areas of their lives,” said Martin Archambault, President and Founder of The French Shop.

To promote physical and mental well-being, The French Shop provides all employees with a free membership to CrossFit Guerriers & Haltérophilie, the gym just steps away from their office in Mile-Ex. And everyone at the Shop wishes these three athletes the very best of luck in all their upcoming championships!