RIO DE JANEIRO – Mandy Bujold kicked off her quest for Canda’s first women’s boxing medal with a win at the Rio Olympics on Friday.
The Kitchener, Ont., native won by unanimous decision her preliminary 51-kilogram bout against Yodgoroy Mirzaeva of Uzbekistan. It was Bujold’s first-ever Olympic fight.
Rio 2016: Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold ready for Olympic debut
“It’s stress off my shoulders, now that I’ve been out there. The first fight is always the worst,” said Bujold. “Now that I’ve got my groove I think it’s going to go better and better as the tournament goes on.”
The 29-year-old had hoped to compete at the London Games when women’s boxing made its Olympic debut in 2012.
Bujold has thought she’d clinched her spot at the 2011 Pan Am Games, but the newness of the women’s event led to mass confusion.
It was decided the world championships would be the qualifier, and a random draw pitted Bujold against a world silver medallist Kim Hye-Song of North Korea. Bujold lost by two points and was done. Canada’s lone wild-card spot on the Olympic team went to Mary Spencer.
“I just wanted to be really in the moment and really happy and enjoy,” said Bujold on savouring her Olympic debut. “I think I did.”
Bujold won her second Pan Am Games title last summer in Toronto, beating 2014 world champion Marlen Esparza, and snapping the American’s 26-bout winning streak.
Alongside Bujold, Ariane Fortin of St. Redempteur, Que., and Toronto’s Arthur Biyarslanov are also competing for Canada in boxing and all three are considered medal hopes.
Canada’s last Olympic boxing medal was 1996 when David Defiagbon of Halifax took silver.