Bujold tops clavel at Olympic trials; first step to qualifying for 2016 Summer Games

Bujold tops clavel at Olympic trials; first step to qualifying for 2016 Summer Games

MONTREAL — When it comes to qualifying for the Olympics, Mandy Bujold says she won’t get fooled again.

The two-time Pan-American Games champion missed out on the 2012 Summer Games in London in a mix-up over which competitions counted towards qualifying.

“I went through that experience and I grew from it,” Bujold said Wednesday night at the Canadian Olympic boxing trials, where she won the flyweight final over Kim Clavel of Joliette, Que. “It was the hardest thing I had to deal with, but it made me stronger.

“I made changes in my career. I changed coaches. I’ve done a lot of things so that I don’t leave anything to chance; so it’s me qualifying and not relying on a wild card or anyone giving it to me.”

The victory over Clavel was the Kitchener, Ont., native’s first step toward the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The winners in 10 men’s and three women’s weight classes at the trials earn the chance to qualify for the 2016 Games. It starts with a meet for North and South American fighters in Argentina in March.

The women get a second chance to qualify at their world championship in Kazakhstan in May while the men can also qualify at a world meet in Azerbaijan in June.

There was little chance that Bujold, ranked second in the world, could not win at the trials, although she found herself up against a game opponent in Clavel.

“I had sparred (with Clavel) many times before,” said 28-year-old Bujold, who downed another tough opponent, Taveena Kum, in the semifinals. “There is always more stress at an event when you know going in what the result’s going to be, but you’ve still got to stay mentally focused.

“I had good competitors here so I wasn’t walking through the park. I used this as a dress rehearsal for the big one, which is the Olympics.”

It was the only women’s bout among six finals staged in a Queen Elizabeth Hotel ballroom.

Bantamweight veteran Kenny Lally of Price George, B.C., who won bronze at the 2015 Pan-Ams in Toronto, defeated Giovan Mathieu-Major of Montreal.

The seven-time Canadian champion is confident that his skill and experience will be enough to make it to Rio.

“That was my 121st fight,” said Lally. “At my first international tournaments I was shell-shocked seeing all those big guys.

“Now I’m right up there with them. I’ve seen them many times and I’m ready to go.”

Clovis Drolet of Quebec City downed Kingsley Alexander of Toronto in a middleweight bout and light heavyweight Petru Bulun of Calgary topped Darren Gonzalez of Orangeville, Ont.

Super-heavyweight Aaron Huggins of Toronto, who was dropped in the first round, took a split decision over Christophe Bernier of Longueuil, Que.

In boxing’s smallest men’s division, the straw-weights, Todd Napper of Welland, Ont., defeated Renaud Young of Mont-Laurier, Que.

“What a relief,” said Napper. “It feels good after all the hard work, putting in extra hours and working a full time job. And now I came here and still got it done.”

Napper, who works in quality control for the Lafarge cement company, looks forward to the qualifying challenge.

“I feel I can adjust in there; I’m good at adjusting,” he said.

Seven more finals — five for men and two for women — are scheduled for Thursday night.

National team coaches are hoping five or six Canadians will qualify for Rio. There were only three at the London games.

Canada has not won an Olympic boxing medal since David Defiagbon took silver at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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