Nova Scotia

Former Olympic boxer Custio Clayton reflects on what lies ahead for Rio athletes

North Preston Boxer Custio Clayton said even though he's no longer fighting for Olympic medals, it's still exciting to think of what lies ahead for athletes competing in Rio.

North Preston athlete made it to the quarterfinals in 2012 Olympics

Former Olympic boxer Custio Clayton says the 2012 Olympics were an amazing experience. (CBC)

North Preston, N.S., boxer Custio Clayton said even though he's no longer fighting for Olympic medals, it's still exciting imagining what lies ahead for athletes competing in Rio.

Clayton, who has been boxing since he was eight years old, is a professional boxer living and competing in Montreal.

This time four years ago, he was on a plane with other members of Team Canada, bound for the 2012 London Olympics.

'An amazing feeling'

"It was the biggest experience of my life," he told CBC's Information Morning.
Custio Clayton says he's now focusing on his career as a professional boxer. (CBC)

"Knowing that you qualified for the Olympics and you're going to go represent your country, it's a lot of pressure but at the same time it's an amazing feeling."

The lead-up to the Rio Olympics has occasionally been marred by controversy, including reports of shoddy construction in the athletes' village.

But Clayton said his own experience of staying in the Olympic village alongside some of his personal heroes like basketball player LeBron James was a highlight, and not just because it gave him the opportunity to meet them. He said that, in the village, amateurs and professionals alike meet on a level playing field, as Olympic athletes.

"It was really wonderful."

A tough outcome

Clayton's Olympic experience wasn't entirely positive. He lost a quarterfinal fight to British boxer Freddie Evans, a result many people felt was unfair. 

"To me I know I won that fight," Clayton said. "I just said, 'I know everyone else is proud of me,' and that was my main goal, to represent Canada the way I did, and that was all I was happy for."

Clayton himself was praised for accepting his loss with aplomb, and he said he received support from people in Nova Scotia and strangers in London. 

"I saw signs and bulletin boards saying I had won that fight, and just seeing that in Britain, that was great."

Britain's Freddie Evans is declared the winner over Canada's Custio Clayton after their Men's Welter (69kg) quarterfinal at the London 2012 Olympics. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

'Do your best' 

Clayton chose not to compete in Rio. He's now focused on his professional career. "I didn't want to go and have the same thing happen. I had my time and I was very happy with it, and I'm very proud of myself and I didn't want to change that."

Clayton said he'll be watching closely, and he had some advice for the 2016 Olympians. 

"Just go out there and just do your best, your country is proud of you for just being able to qualify for the Olympics. 

"No matter what, however you do, we're proud of you."

With files from CBC's Information Morning