June 22nd, 2024

Health issues force Canadian boxer to withdraw from Olympic qualifier in Bangkok

By The Canadian Press on May 30, 2024.

Canadian boxer Marie Al-Ahmadieh has withdrawn from a last-ditch Olympic qualifier due to "unforeseen health-related issues," says Boxing Canada. Al-Ahmadieh battles against Ashleyann Lozada Motta of Puerto Rico in the Women's 57kg Boxing quarterfinals during the 2023 Pan American Games, in Santiago, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Leah Hennel, COC *MANDATORY CREDIT*

BANGKOK – Canadian boxer Marie Al-Ahmadieh has withdrawn from a last-ditch Olympic qualifier due to “unforeseen health-related issues,” according to Boxing Canada.

The 19-year-old from Montreal, a silver medallist at the 2023 AMBC American Continental Championships, was slated to meet Sierra Leone’s Josefien Betist on Thursday in a round-of-16 bout in the women’s 57-kilogram division.

“Marie has been an integral part of our team, and her dedication to her craft is commendable,” Kraig Devlin, Boxing Canada’s high performance director, said in a statement. “However, in light of recent health-related concerns, it was deemed necessary to withdraw her from the competition to ensure her well-being. We stand by Marie’s decision to prioritize her health and we offer her our full support during this time.”

Al-Ahmadieh is the second Canadian team member to exit without fighting at Haumark Stadium. Victor Tremblay failed to make weight for his first fight in the 57-kilogram bracket.

Nine Canadians entered the Bangkok tournament trying to fight their way into this summer’s Olympic field. Three are left.

Sara Kali, a 32-year-old from Montreal, faces Cape Verde’s Ivanusa (Nancy) Moreira on Friday in round-of-eight action in the women’s 66-kilogram class.

Mckenzie Wright, a 33-year-old from St. Davids, Ont., meets Argentina’s Aldana Florencia Lopez on Friday in a round-of-16 bout in the women’s 50-kilogram division. The Argentine won a bronze medal at the 2022 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

Scarlett Delgado, 28-year-old from Brampton, Ont., faces Enkhjargal Munguntsetseg in a round-of-eight 54-kilogram bout Saturday. The 25-year-old Mongolian was a bronze medallist at the 2023 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

Canadians Terris Smith, Junior Petanqui, Keven Beausejour and Doni Foreman have already lost.

The Bangkok qualifier, which runs through Monday, will determine the final 51 quota places (23 for women and 28 for men) for the Paris Games.

Canada has already qualified two boxers for Paris, which features 13 weight classes – seven for men and six for women.

Middleweight Tammara Thibeault (75 kilograms) and welterweight Wyatt Sanford (63.5 kilograms) booked their ticket by virtue of gold-medal performances at last year’s Pan American Games. Both were members of Canada’s five-boxer team for the Tokyo Olympics and Thibeault was a world champion in 2022.

Competitors need to crack the top four in Bangkok to punch their ticket to Paris. That measuring stick can change, however, given Olympic host France is guaranteed a maximum of six quota places (three for women and three for men) so a country can claim a spot in a weight class even if it doesn’t qualify a fighter.

There will be no title bouts at the Bangkok event, with action in each weight class coming to a halt when the final Olympic berths are determined.

Olympic boxing qualification comes in the form of several steps.

The first were five continental qualifiers, with the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, covering the Americas. A first World Qualification Tournament was then held in Busto Arzizio, Italy, from Feb. 29 to March 12.

Competitors essentially had to finish in the top four in Italy to secure Olympic qualification, although that figure varied in some weight classes. Canada had two athletes finish in the top eight – Delgado and super-heavyweight Alexis Barriere, who subsequently opted to focus on a pro career.

Canada has won 17 Olympic boxing medals (three gold, seven silver and seven bronze), but none since 1996 when heavyweight David Defiagbon won silver in Atlanta.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2024

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