Can Mandy Bujold answer Olympic bell?
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It’s make or break time in Qinhuangdao, China for Kitchener’s flyweight Olympic hopeful Mandy Bujold.
The 24-year-old boxer will fight some of the toughest women in the world in the next 10 days at the world championships in the Chinese port city.
Bujold, the seven time, 51-kg national champion, and fellow Canadians Mary Spencer (75 kg) of Windsor and Quebec City’s Sandra Bizier (60 kg) all need to place among the top two fighters from the Americas in their weight classes to earn Olympic berths.
The top eight women in each category at the championships will go to London.
This tournament is something these boxers have been training for since the International Olympic Committee announced in 2009 that women’s boxing would be allowed at the Summer Games in London, for the first time in history.
Bujold, who left for China Monday, could fight as many as six times between May 9-20. She spent the last week training with the national team in Vancouver in preparation.
“I feel great. I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel focused,” Bujold said. “This is something I’ve been working toward for over eight years now. This is my opportunity and I’ve got to go and do it now.”
In the week before she left for Vancouver, Bujold worked out at the Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy with Russian-born boxing coach Mike Kozlowski to sharpen her skills against some of the women she’ll face in China.
Kozlowski, now based in Brooklyn, has trained world champions from light middleweight Yuri Foreman and welterweight Jill Emery.
“We came up with some game plans for some of my European opponents. It was good to have him around and learn from him because he’s got a lot of knowledge in this sport,” she said.
In her last fight a month ago, the Forest Heights graduate narrowly lost her semifinal match at the American Boxing Confederation’s Women’s Elite Continental Championships in Cornwall, falling 16-14 on points to U.S. champion Marlen Esparaza.
Bujold had advanced to the semifinal in Cornwall by handily beating Judith Zaida Enriquez of Mexico 24-4 the previous night.
Bujold, who won gold at the Pan American Games last fall, has faced many of her opponents from the Americas before. But with more than 40 fighters in her division in China, there will be many unknowns.
Bujold isn’t concerned about that, however, and plans to make a statement with her performance in the ring.
“I don’t just want to qualify. I want to win a world championships and go into the Olympics as a favourite,” she said.