The moment the Olympic dream was almost taken away by me
I may not be a household name, so let me introduce myself. My name is Mandy Buyod. I am a Canadian Olympic athlete and the loving mother of my beautiful two-year-old daughter Kate. But because I have both of these things at the same time, my Olympic dream almost left me.
For female athletes, starting a family is not easy. Our body is our livelihood, and pregnancy will bring huge losses to the body. It’s really nerve-wracking. Can I get back in shape? Can I reach the highest level? But in the end, my desire to start a family concealed any doubts. I have the determination and support to understand more clearly that I do not need to choose between personal and professional goals. I can achieve both.
In this way, I started the journey of starting a family.
I just returned from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. This is my first time participating in the Olympics, and it did not go according to plan. I fell ill the night before the quarter-finals and spent the night in the hospital. But I didn’t let this stop me. I was still fighting the next morning. Although I was eliminated in the medal competition, I returned to Canada with pride and excitement, because I might soon become a mother.
In November 2018, this dream came true. My daughter came into this world. And my whole world has completely changed.
Being an Olympic athlete is an obsession. Before my daughter, my life revolved around this obsession. Eat, sleep, train. Eat, sleep, train. repeat. But now I have a new priority in my life. I learned to find a balance between the two. I fell in love with being a mother, but I was also driven to regain my status as an Olympic boxer.
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It is not easy to get back in shape. But the mother’s power helps. My daughter quickly became the fuel that motivated me to complete training. Push a little more, even when I’m at the point of breakdown. I am determined to be her role model. When she grows up to understand her, she can look back on my Olympic journey and know that as long as she works hard and is determined, she can do whatever she wants.
I will arrive soon. almost.
The Tokyo Olympic qualifiers began in the Canadian Olympic qualifiers held in Montreal in 2019. At that time, I had just returned to the international competition after leaving the international competition for nearly two years, but I was ready. I left the competition with a gold medal and won a place that could represent my country in the next qualifying. The number of matches. Held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That event will represent the culmination of my journey back from maternity leave and will once again consolidate my status as an Olympic athlete. Although I did not participate in the competition, I am confident that I can go to Tokyo to participate in the world stage competition as one of the four lightweight boxers.
But that qualifying match never happened. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was cancelled, rescheduled to May 2021, and then cancelled again. Soon after, the IOC Boxing Task Force announced that boxers from pan-American countries will qualify for Tokyo based on their rankings in the three competitions held in 2018 and 2019. All three games were played in 11 months, and I was pregnant or after giving birth.
Watch | In the ring with Mandy Bujold and her daughter:
I wrote a letter to the International Olympic Committee, defending myself and other women who might encounter the same situation. I believe that once they realize the discriminatory impact of their decision, they will be happy to accept it.After all, the IOC is only a few months away Public update Their commitment to gender equality, inclusiveness, solidarity and non-discrimination.
But the International Olympic Committee did not respond. The stage was prepared for my first Olympic game outside the ring. The ensuing lawsuit made me mentally exhausted, but I continued to train. Regardless of whether things go well, I need to be prepared. My daughter makes things easier. She is now more and more devoted to my enthusiasm, such as going to the gym for a short time to see me training. This may seem trivial, but getting her in my corner is all I need to keep going.
The ruling of the Sports Arbitration Court was announced on June 30, 2021, and I am happy to say that my lawsuit was won. The court ruled that the eligibility criteria must include facilities for women who become pregnant or postpartum during the eligibility period.
My Olympic dream is still intact.
What matters is gender equality
Under the leadership of Sylvie Rodrigue of Torys LLP, I have an incredible legal team to fight this battle with me. If we did not leave it all on the ring, we would make a mess of boxing. This is one of the biggest battles in my career and the most meaningful battle. I stand up for what I think is right and my dream of working hard. I am proud that we have set a human rights precedent for current and future generations of female athletes.
My Olympic seat is not important here. What matters is the recurring pattern of gender inequality in sports. Women should not be punished because they are women. They should be respected for the unique challenges they face and continue to overcome. This is why my story is so important to me.
This is continued by Billie Jean King, Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird, Hilary The way out for the narrative created by countless women such as Hilary Knight. This is an important narrative and deserves a new chapter. A person who has transitioned from achieving gender equality to maintaining it. We should not achieve or strive for gender equality. As human beings, we have won its rights. I only hope that my story can help educate those inside and outside sports who may have different opinions. I owe myself. I owe other women. The most important thing is that I owe my daughter. There is no more room for excuses and ignorance. We need leaders and organizations that have the power to support change.
I want to send a strong message to all female athletes who put their personal goals and dreams aside because of fear of consequences: you don’t have to choose one of them. You can become a mom and play the highest level. You can become a wife or partner and win championships or medals. You can become friends and break world records or set your personal best. You have the ability to view obstacles as opportunities to overcome, not obstacles. Go past them. Bypass them. If necessary, please pass them directly. But never feel restricted because you are a woman.
The sky is your limit.