It’s the news that the Canadian Olympic community has been awaiting for several weeks — Windsor, Ontario boxer Mary Spencer will be going to the 2012 Summer Games after the International Amateur Boxing Association awarded her a wild-card spot.
Spencer found out on Monday that she will be one of 12 boxers in the 75-kilogram weight class. She will also have a chance to be the first female boxer to win Olympic gold, since women’s boxing is is being introduced in London as a medal event.
Despite being of the most high-profile representatives of the sport, there was some doubt whether Spencer would be able to compete at the Games after losing her opening match at the world championships in Qinhuangdao, China in May. The shocking loss came at the hands of Swede Anna Laurell, and was the only chance for Spencer to qualify for London. She had previously lost a match in April to Flint, Michigan teen Claressa Shields 27-14, so that plus the defeat at the worlds provided an ominous backdrop to Spencer’s chances for the Olympics.
Spencer had risen to prominence during the 2011 Pan American Games, winning gold in Guadalajara, Mexico and becoming Canada’s flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies. In addition to women’s boxing, the three-time world champion also represents cosmetics giant CoverGirl.
The wild-card berth was not a given; there was talk that the IOC could award the spot to another boxer from a developing country, to foster the game in a different region. While she waited, Spencer spent part of her her time beating German opponent Andrea Strohemeir in two four-round bouts in Montreal on the weekend.
“I’m almost speechless,” Spencer said during a news conference at her training base, the Windsor Amateur Boxing Club. “This is a very exciting time. We’ve been waiting for the news for a while now, so it’s very good news to finally have. I’m just excited to get ready for the Games; I’m very excited to be representing Canada at the Olympics.”
So what was her reaction when Boxing Canada president Pat Fiacco woke her up with a phone call to tell her the big news? Did she scream and jump up and down and run around the block? Not exactly. “I’ll be completely honest … I had a big smile on my face, but you know what? I went back to sleep.”
In a couple of months, Mary Spencer will find herself in the most prominent boxing ring she’s ever stepped into; she can be forgiven for trying to get all the rest she can.