Tokyo 2020 athlete Mandy Bujold takes part in a photoshoot at the SydFIT Health Centre in Kitchener, Ont., on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - COC, Michael P. Hall

Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold officially punches her ticket to Tokyo

Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold officially punches her ticket to Tokyo

It’s official: Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold is Tokyo-bound.

Bujold was named to Canada’s five-member Olympic boxing team on Wednesday, a week after she won her human rights appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland to compete at the Games.

“I am very excited to join Team Canada for my second Olympic Games,” Bujold said in a release. “I am ready and looking forward to showcasing my skills on the biggest stage.”

Tammara Thibeault, Myriam Da Silva, Caroline Veyre and Wyatt Sanford qualified via their world rankings, based on competitions in 2018 and ‘19, as per the IOC Boxing Task Force’s criteria for selection. They’ll be making their Olympic debuts.

Bujold, an 11-time national flyweight champion, was forced to appeal after the Olympic trials in Buenos Aires were cancelled earlier this year due to rising COVID-19 cases in Argentina. The Task Force then determined berths based on world rankings, but Bujold had missed the three events they had decided to retroactively use for rankings because of her pregnancy.

Bujold lost an appeal to the IOC, leaving the CAS as her last chance for Tokyo.

The 33-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., made international headlines in her battle, and earned support from numerous high-profile people including retired tennis star Billie Jean King and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

“What an inspiration Mandy Bujold has been to our whole Canadian team — her dedication and persistence to fight for her rights outside the ring matched her incredibly creative training for inside the ring,” said Marnie McBean, Canada’s chef de mission for Tokyo. “Our first-time Olympic boxers have an incredible leader in their midst. They are all going to be so exciting to watch.”

Thibeault, from Shawinigan, Que., is a Pan Am Games silver medallist in the 75kg category, and bronze medallist at the 2019 world championships and 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“This has been a long time coming” Thibeault said. “I am excited for this next step. I am very close to accomplishing my lifelong dream and I’m very grateful for all the time and effort that everyone has put into this journey.”

Da Silva, from Chambly, Que., will box in the 69kg class, while Montreal’s Veyre will compete at 57kg — the first time these women’s weight categories have been on the Olympic program.

“Being a boxer since 2007, I am excited and especially proud to take part in the first Olympic edition of the women’s welterweight,” said Da Silva, a three-time Canadian champion “This addition is an important advancement for girls in the sport and I am proud to be part of this group to continue advancing women’s boxing.”

Veyre won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games.

“I have dreamed of this moment for so long,” she said. “There is no greater accomplishment for an athlete.”

Sanford, from Kennetcook, N.S., will box in the welterweight (69kg) category.

“Boxing may be a solo sport, but it’s the team and the community around us that help us achieve our goals and that have helped me make it to my first Olympic Games,” said Sanford.

Canada’s last Olympic boxing medal was a silver from David Defiagbon at Atlanta 1996.

No Canadians have climbed the podium since women’s boxing was added to the Olympic program in 2012. Bujold, in 2016, and Mary Spencer, in 2012, both finished fifth. Bujold’s result was heartbreaking as she’d been in hospital battling an illness the night before her quarterfinal bout.

The Tokyo Olympics open on July 23.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Olympics