By: Whitney Bell
Last week I began presenting some of the female athletes we can expect to see during the Pan Am and Parapan Am games in Toronto from July 10th-26th and August 7th to 15th. Last week featured Jessica Zelinka (track and field) and Neilly Ross (waterskiing). Today I’ll introduce you to two more athletes in boxing and swimming.
Mary Spencer: Boxing
Hometown: Wiarton, ON
Success: She has won three World Championships, one Pan American Games gold medal, and eight Canadian Championships.
Mary was born in Wiarton, ON and is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. She began boxing in 2002 at the age of 17. After a few months of testing the ropes she found herself at the Windsor Amateur Boxing Club, training under 3 time Olympic coach, Charlie Stewart. 18 months later Mary won her first Canadian Championship in the 66kg weight division. It would be the first of many major accomplishments in the ring. That year, 2004, Mary went undefeated in International competitions, winning tournaments in Italy, Poland and Taiwan. She was awarded Canadian Boxer of the Year in her rookie year. As of July 26, 2011, her amateur record was 115 wins, 9 losses.
Women’s boxing became a part of the Olympic Games program for the first time in London in 2012. Spencer was considered a medal favourite, and one of Canada’s best hopes in women’s boxing. Mary is now busy preparing for the Toronto Pan Am games!
A Quebecer, Aurelie lives in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where she trains at the Club de natation du Haut-Richelieu with coach France Latendresse. She took up competitive swimming in 2008; with an impairment in her left hand she competes in the S10, SB9 and SM10 disability classifications.
Rivard competed at the 2010 IPC Swimming World Championships but did not win any medals. At the 2012 London Paralympics she entered six events and won silver in the S10 400 m freestyle. She won five medals at the 2013 World Championships including two silver, two bronze and joint second place in the 200 m medley. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games she won bronze in the 200 m individual medley. In 2014 Swimming Canada named Rivard “Female Para-Swimmer of the Year”.