Boxer Mary Spencer wants to share "awesome journey"
It's a tough thing for any Olympic athlete: You get ignored for most of your career and then suddenly as the Games approach you start becoming a focus of attention.
Canadian boxer Mary Spencer is starting to experience some of that. Women's boxing will be making its debut at the 2012 London Olympics and Spencer is a three-time world champion with designs on gold.
It's not like she's inundated with requests just yet, but it's a dramatic enough change when camera crews and reporters become a fairly common occurrence at the gym where they rarely ever showed up before.
"Once I started preparing for the Olympics, I realized the attention's going to come with it," said Spencer. "At first, it was kind of like reporters and media people getting in my way when I was preparing to fight really bothered me.
"But then I thought of it like 'This is an awesome journey that I shouldn't be keeping to myself. These are awesome experiences that would just blow people's minds that I should be sharing.' So when I think about preparing and sharing and going to the Olympics, I think about those things as well. It's all part of the game. It's all tied in together."
That's one of the neat things about Spencer as women's boxing gets ready for its maiden Olympic voyage. She's adaptable – heck she had to go up in weight class from 66 to 75 kilos because there are only three women's Olympic divisions and still won a world title. In fact, she whupped the reigning world champion from China.
But it's the mental adjustments along the way that will be key. Hers is a journey she hopes will inspire people.
"That's what excites me," she said. "It's not that I'm going to enjoy seeing myself on TV or anything like that. There's other people who are going to be inspired because of it. That's exciting. That makes it worth it."
Spencer just left for Costa Rica to do some altitude training with coach Charlie Stewart to help her prepare for the Pan Am Games in October in Guadalajara, Mexico.
There's not a lot at stake in this boxing season for Spencer. The big events will be the Canadian Olympic boxing trials and world championships in China next March.
"It's good, this year is like a building year for us, you don't have to peak at all because next year we're going to have to peak – or try to – three times in seven or eight months," said Spencer.
Still, the London Olympics don't feel far away.
"It feels very close – a year ago it felt close," she said.
(Photo by Craig Glover for The Toronto Star)