Mon, September 23, 2013

Spencer needs wild card berth to make Olympics

By Steve Buffery, QMI Agency


Boxer Mary Spencer is hoping for a wild-card berth to make the London Olympics.

TORONTO - Canadian boxer Mary Spencer will only get to this summer’s London Olympics if she takes a walk on the wild (card) side.

Once considered one of Canada’s best bets for a gold medal in London — in any sport — Spencer will not make it to the Games unless an International Olympic Committee Tripartite Commission grants her a wild card spot into the Olympics.

Robert Crete, Boxing Canada executive director, said the wild card usually goes to an athlete from an underdeveloped nation, which widely participates in the sport in question — in this case boxing. But in the case of the women’s boxing 75 kg weight class, Crete believes there are no athletes from the Americas who would meet that criteria at this time and, therefore, Spencer should get the Americas zone wild card. Women’s boxing will be an Olympic sport for the first time this summer in London.

“We are hoping that they will look, logistically speaking, at past history and the performance of the athlete,” Crete said. “Mary is a three-time world champion, the No.1 athlete based on points in the AIBA (world amateur boxing association) website. She was awarded the (AIBA) female boxer of the year for 2010 and 2011 in the Americas. To me it seems illogical that six months ago she’d qualify as the best boxer in the Americas and then they’d turn around and, because of one bad performance, say you’re not going to the Olympics.”

That bad performance was a early-round loss to Swedish fighter Anna Laurell at the world championships last week in Qinhuangdao, China, which acts as the Olympic qualifier. Unfortunately for Spencer, Laurell lost to Elena Vystropova of Azerbaijan in Friday’s semifinals, 16-15. That means two other fighters from the Americas, Claressa Shields of the U.S. and Brazil’s Rosalie Fetosa, who like Spencer lost early in the tournament, will earn Americas quota spots to London given the fact that the two fighters they lost against, Vystropova and Savannah Marshall of England, have made it to the finals at the worlds. That means Spencer’s only shot to compete in London is the wild card.

“I’m praying for a wild card,” said Spencer, a native of Wiarton, Ont., who trains in Windsor. “The only thing better than winning the Olympic gold would be winning gold after qualifying via a wild card.”