Spencer's Olympic future still cloudy
Boxer Mary Spencer poses in a photo shoot with The Canadian Press in Toronto, November 21, 2011. Spencer has just one last shot at the London Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
QINGHUANGDAO, China - Canadian boxing star Mary Spencer has just one last shot at the London Olympics.
The three-time world champion from Windsor, Ont., has to hope she's awarded the lone wild card berth for the Games after she missed out on one of the two Olympic spots up for grabs this week at the women's world championships.
"I'm praying for a wild card," Spencer said. "The only thing better than winning Olympic gold would be winning gold after qualifying via wild card."
Spencer needed Sweden's Anna Rosalie Laurell to defeat Elena Vystropova of Azerbaijan in the women's 75-kilogram semifinals Thursday, but the Swede lost 16-15.
A victory by Laurell would have guaranteed Spencer one of the two Olympic spots set aside for the Americas.
Spencer, a three-time world champion and the top seed in her weight class, will now have to wait and see if she gets a wild card spot from the International Olympic Committee's Tripartite Commission.
Canada's Mandy Bujold and Sandra Bizier are in a similar position after they also missed their chance to qualify for London through the world championships.
According to a spokesman from the International Amateur Boxing Association, the wild cards for the three Olympic weight classes will be decided early next month.
The qualifying process has been a complicated one after five boxers from the Americas failed to advance past the round of 16, creating a five-way tie for two spots.
Spencer lost to Laurell in her opening bout at the tournament earlier this week, so the further Laurell went in the event, the better chance Spencer had of earning a spot.
Brazil's Roseli Amaral Feitosa and American Claressa Shields have been awarded the two Olympic berths because the women they lost to have both advanced to final.
Spencer, 27, was born in Wiarton, Ont., and grew up in Windsor. The five-foot-11 fighter captured gold at the Pan American Games last fall in Mexico and carried the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies.
Spencer's absence would be a big blow to the Canadian Olympic team. She's considered one of Canada's top hopes for a medal in London, and is a rising star on the squad. In addition to being the new face of CoverGirl, Spencer is featured prominently in a new ad campaign from the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Her remarkable consistency also took a hit early last month when she dropped a 27-14 decision to Shields in the final of the American Boxing Confederation's continental championships.
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