N.S. boxer's Olympic dreams muddied after qualifying event axed due to COVID
Wyatt Sanford left in limbo, Olympic selection in hands of international committee
It's a stressful time for Canadian boxer Wyatt Sanford.
The 22-year-old from Kennetcook, N.S., has returned to his home province from his training in Quebec after an upcoming Olympic qualifying event in Argentina was cancelled for the second straight year.
"Due to the COVID cases in South America it was just deemed unsafe for the tournament to happen," said Sanford.
So instead of entering the boxing ring in Buenos Aires and competing for the right to go to the Olympics, he now must wait for a decision to come from the International Olympic Committee. It will decide who gets the spots for the Olympic boxing tournament in Tokyo, if the Summer Games move forward.
"If they select me now it's because of my past success," said Sanford, who finished in the Top 10 in the welterweight division (69 kilograms) at the last world championships held two years ago in Russia.
"But it would be a lot better feeling knowing you fought and earned that spot. If for some reason I don't get selected to go, then it would suck that much more."
Sanford and the rest of Canada's top amateur boxers have been limited to training together for the last year. International competitions have been in a holding pattern as countries around the globe deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The selection committee will have to base its decisions on previous rankings and results from the last two or three years.
Sanford and his girlfriend drove home from Montreal earlier this week. His parents left some groceries on the front step of the family home for them to pick up so they would have provisions for their mandatory two-week quarantine, which they are spending at the family cabin outside Kennetcook.
"When I head back to Quebec in two weeks they should have an answer on whether I'm qualified or not," said Sanford, who comes from a family of competitive boxers and took up the sport when he was 10.
"If I qualify I'll start preparing for the Olympics, and if I'm not qualified I'll still be in Montreal to work with my teammates as a training partner."
Sanford said he's always dreamed of representing Canada at the Olympic Games. If he isn't selected for the Tokyo Games, he said he's still young enough that he could still shoot for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
He said the selection decisions are huge for some of his older teammates with the national program as it could be their last chance to go to the Olympics.