Kitchener's Bujold celebrates birthday with Pan Am gold

Pan Am Games Jul 26, 2015 by Josh Brown Waterloo Region Record

Mandy Bujold wiped tears away from her eyes as she stood atop the podium soon after the fight of her life.

"I feel like I've practised the national anthem moment and how it was going to feel and it was just unreal," said the Kitchener boxer. "It's incredible."

The crowd at the Oshawa Sports Centre gave Bujold a standing ovation as she leaned forward to accept her gold medal on her 28th birthday Saturday night.

Her opponent, American Marlen Esparza, looked dejected as the Canadian national anthem filled the arena.

The current world champ isn't used to losing.

Esparza hadn't tasted defeat in more than a year, a stretch that saw her hand raised 26 consecutive times. She had beaten Bujold all three times they had clashed but that ended Saturday with a split decision loss.

"It's always going to be a close fight with Marlen," said Bujold. "I've had to fight her in her backyard too and had close decision losses."

A calculated game plan that saw the Canadian flyweight avoid Esparza's powerful right overhand punch and return with a viscous counter attack was the difference this time around.

Bujold's quick feet helped her stay out of harm's way and get in to deliver a flurry of exchanges that seemed to frustrate the American.

"I could see her right hand coming all day," said Bujold. "That's all she wanted to throw."

The former Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy member — who now trains in Toronto — oozed confidence and never panicked.

"I was comfortable," she said. "I think I did exactly what I needed to do to win and I think it showed."

With the victory, Bujold becomes the only female boxer to ever claim two Pan Am gold medals in the ring, as she also won in Guadalajara, Mexico four years back.

And it adds a strut to her step as she prepares to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Bujold has been here before.

Back in 2012, she was fresh off her Pan Am win and eyeing a bid in the Summer Olympics in London, England. But the pint-size pugilist was shockingly bounced in the qualifying tournament and never realized her dream.

Things are different now.

A win against the top rated boxer in her 51-kilogram weight class proves she's making huge strides.

"It's just adding to my confidence as we go into the 2016 Olympics cycle," she said. "I couldn't be more proud to be Canadian right now."

Next up are the world championships in Doha, Qatar Oct. 5-18.

But before she heads back to the gym, the newly minted 28 year old took a moment to splurge with a throng of family and friends who treated her to a birthday dinner after Saturday's gold medal performance.

Dessert was even on the menu.

"I don't (eat it) when I'm training," said Bujold. "But now I'm going to eat cake."

MURRAY GRABS SILVER: Kitchener's Jamal Murray continued his impressive play at the Pan Am Games by collecting a dozen points in the men's basketball final but had to settle for a silver medal after Canada lost 86-71 to Brazil Saturday evening. The United States claimed bronze with an 87-82 win against the Dominican Republic. Murray, 18, is a former Grand River Collegiate Institute student and is attending the University of Kentucky in the fall.

DAN 'THE MAN' DOUBLES UP: Dan MacLelland added to his Pan Am haul by picking up a bronze medal in men's singles bowling Saturday. The 30-year-old came out of round robin play with the top score but lost in the semis to Venezuela's Amleto Monacelli. The Kitchener resident, who runs Brunswick Frederick Lanes, also won a gold medal with partner Francois Lavoie in men's doubles this past Thursday.

WESTNEY REACHES PODIUM: Cambridge sprinter Jellisa Westney joined teammates Crystal Emmanuel, Kim Hyacinthe, and Khamica Bingham on the podium after earning a bronze medal in the women's 4x100 relay Saturday at York University. The quartet combined for a time of 43 seconds, behind Jamaica (42.68) and winners the United States (42.58). Westney, 21, is a former St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School student.

jbrown@therecord.com , Twitter: @BrownRecord

Kitchener's Bujold celebrates birthday with Pan Am gold

Pan Am Games Jul 26, 2015 by Josh Brown Waterloo Region Record

Mandy Bujold wiped tears away from her eyes as she stood atop the podium soon after the fight of her life.

"I feel like I've practised the national anthem moment and how it was going to feel and it was just unreal," said the Kitchener boxer. "It's incredible."

The crowd at the Oshawa Sports Centre gave Bujold a standing ovation as she leaned forward to accept her gold medal on her 28th birthday Saturday night.

Her opponent, American Marlen Esparza, looked dejected as the Canadian national anthem filled the arena.

The current world champ isn't used to losing.

Esparza hadn't tasted defeat in more than a year, a stretch that saw her hand raised 26 consecutive times. She had beaten Bujold all three times they had clashed but that ended Saturday with a split decision loss.

"It's always going to be a close fight with Marlen," said Bujold. "I've had to fight her in her backyard too and had close decision losses."

A calculated game plan that saw the Canadian flyweight avoid Esparza's powerful right overhand punch and return with a viscous counter attack was the difference this time around.

Bujold's quick feet helped her stay out of harm's way and get in to deliver a flurry of exchanges that seemed to frustrate the American.

"I could see her right hand coming all day," said Bujold. "That's all she wanted to throw."

The former Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy member — who now trains in Toronto — oozed confidence and never panicked.

"I was comfortable," she said. "I think I did exactly what I needed to do to win and I think it showed."

With the victory, Bujold becomes the only female boxer to ever claim two Pan Am gold medals in the ring, as she also won in Guadalajara, Mexico four years back.

And it adds a strut to her step as she prepares to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Bujold has been here before.

Back in 2012, she was fresh off her Pan Am win and eyeing a bid in the Summer Olympics in London, England. But the pint-size pugilist was shockingly bounced in the qualifying tournament and never realized her dream.

Things are different now.

A win against the top rated boxer in her 51-kilogram weight class proves she's making huge strides.

"It's just adding to my confidence as we go into the 2016 Olympics cycle," she said. "I couldn't be more proud to be Canadian right now."

Next up are the world championships in Doha, Qatar Oct. 5-18.

But before she heads back to the gym, the newly minted 28 year old took a moment to splurge with a throng of family and friends who treated her to a birthday dinner after Saturday's gold medal performance.

Dessert was even on the menu.

"I don't (eat it) when I'm training," said Bujold. "But now I'm going to eat cake."

MURRAY GRABS SILVER: Kitchener's Jamal Murray continued his impressive play at the Pan Am Games by collecting a dozen points in the men's basketball final but had to settle for a silver medal after Canada lost 86-71 to Brazil Saturday evening. The United States claimed bronze with an 87-82 win against the Dominican Republic. Murray, 18, is a former Grand River Collegiate Institute student and is attending the University of Kentucky in the fall.

DAN 'THE MAN' DOUBLES UP: Dan MacLelland added to his Pan Am haul by picking up a bronze medal in men's singles bowling Saturday. The 30-year-old came out of round robin play with the top score but lost in the semis to Venezuela's Amleto Monacelli. The Kitchener resident, who runs Brunswick Frederick Lanes, also won a gold medal with partner Francois Lavoie in men's doubles this past Thursday.

WESTNEY REACHES PODIUM: Cambridge sprinter Jellisa Westney joined teammates Crystal Emmanuel, Kim Hyacinthe, and Khamica Bingham on the podium after earning a bronze medal in the women's 4x100 relay Saturday at York University. The quartet combined for a time of 43 seconds, behind Jamaica (42.68) and winners the United States (42.58). Westney, 21, is a former St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School student.

jbrown@therecord.com , Twitter: @BrownRecord

Kitchener's Bujold celebrates birthday with Pan Am gold

Pan Am Games Jul 26, 2015 by Josh Brown Waterloo Region Record

Mandy Bujold wiped tears away from her eyes as she stood atop the podium soon after the fight of her life.

"I feel like I've practised the national anthem moment and how it was going to feel and it was just unreal," said the Kitchener boxer. "It's incredible."

The crowd at the Oshawa Sports Centre gave Bujold a standing ovation as she leaned forward to accept her gold medal on her 28th birthday Saturday night.

Her opponent, American Marlen Esparza, looked dejected as the Canadian national anthem filled the arena.

The current world champ isn't used to losing.

Esparza hadn't tasted defeat in more than a year, a stretch that saw her hand raised 26 consecutive times. She had beaten Bujold all three times they had clashed but that ended Saturday with a split decision loss.

"It's always going to be a close fight with Marlen," said Bujold. "I've had to fight her in her backyard too and had close decision losses."

A calculated game plan that saw the Canadian flyweight avoid Esparza's powerful right overhand punch and return with a viscous counter attack was the difference this time around.

Bujold's quick feet helped her stay out of harm's way and get in to deliver a flurry of exchanges that seemed to frustrate the American.

"I could see her right hand coming all day," said Bujold. "That's all she wanted to throw."

The former Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy member — who now trains in Toronto — oozed confidence and never panicked.

"I was comfortable," she said. "I think I did exactly what I needed to do to win and I think it showed."

With the victory, Bujold becomes the only female boxer to ever claim two Pan Am gold medals in the ring, as she also won in Guadalajara, Mexico four years back.

And it adds a strut to her step as she prepares to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Bujold has been here before.

Back in 2012, she was fresh off her Pan Am win and eyeing a bid in the Summer Olympics in London, England. But the pint-size pugilist was shockingly bounced in the qualifying tournament and never realized her dream.

Things are different now.

A win against the top rated boxer in her 51-kilogram weight class proves she's making huge strides.

"It's just adding to my confidence as we go into the 2016 Olympics cycle," she said. "I couldn't be more proud to be Canadian right now."

Next up are the world championships in Doha, Qatar Oct. 5-18.

But before she heads back to the gym, the newly minted 28 year old took a moment to splurge with a throng of family and friends who treated her to a birthday dinner after Saturday's gold medal performance.

Dessert was even on the menu.

"I don't (eat it) when I'm training," said Bujold. "But now I'm going to eat cake."

MURRAY GRABS SILVER: Kitchener's Jamal Murray continued his impressive play at the Pan Am Games by collecting a dozen points in the men's basketball final but had to settle for a silver medal after Canada lost 86-71 to Brazil Saturday evening. The United States claimed bronze with an 87-82 win against the Dominican Republic. Murray, 18, is a former Grand River Collegiate Institute student and is attending the University of Kentucky in the fall.

DAN 'THE MAN' DOUBLES UP: Dan MacLelland added to his Pan Am haul by picking up a bronze medal in men's singles bowling Saturday. The 30-year-old came out of round robin play with the top score but lost in the semis to Venezuela's Amleto Monacelli. The Kitchener resident, who runs Brunswick Frederick Lanes, also won a gold medal with partner Francois Lavoie in men's doubles this past Thursday.

WESTNEY REACHES PODIUM: Cambridge sprinter Jellisa Westney joined teammates Crystal Emmanuel, Kim Hyacinthe, and Khamica Bingham on the podium after earning a bronze medal in the women's 4x100 relay Saturday at York University. The quartet combined for a time of 43 seconds, behind Jamaica (42.68) and winners the United States (42.58). Westney, 21, is a former St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School student.

jbrown@therecord.com , Twitter: @BrownRecord