Canada's Caroline Veyre advances to boxing quarterfinals with dominant performance

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TOKYO — Caroline Veyre has big ambitions, and during her first boxing match at the Tokyo Olympics, she made sure everyone took note.

Veyre qualified for the quarterfinals with a dominant performance over her opponent on Monday at the Tokyo Olympics.

The French-born Montreal boxer won over Croatia's Nikolina Cacic by unanimous decision in the 57 kg category, with three scores of 30-26 and two of 30-25 from the five judges.

"I had an excellent strategy against her. I also know what the judges are looking for and I feel very comfortable in that style," the 32-year-old said following the win.

"I was very confident and I felt very dominant in the ring."

Cacic was also penalized a point in the second round by referee Bachir Abbar.

From the moment the bell rang, Veyre went after her adversary and asserted herself in a dominant manner. The 32-year-old threw a number of precise, effective combinations, including three consecutive hooks in the latter part of the first round while her opponent was against the ropes.

"I knew she would give me some openings, because she doesn't carry her guard high enough," Veyre said. "I owed it to myself to take advantage as early as possible. She quickly got tired afterwards."

The Croatian attempted to adapt in the second round, but was unable to keep Veyre at bay. The Canadian broke into Cacic's bubble and overwhelmed her Croatian opponent, who ended up grabbing her and earning a penalty.

Veyre continued her work in the third round, giving Cacic no opportunity to score points.

"For us, she followed the match plan we established," trainer Daniel Trépanier said. "It was the ideal adversary to break the ice."

Veyre will take on Italian Irma Testa in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Testa pulled off a surprise victory by besting Ireland's Michaela Walsh by unanimous decision.

Veyre, who got a bye in the first round, said she was looking forward to the next steps.

"I was happy to have gotten that first adversary, a girl with long arms, a long reach," she said. "There are several in my category."

Testa, she said, is a similar mould.

"I'll have to use the same strategy, but do it even better, because it's an even better boxer. That's what the judges want: they want to see activity, pressure. That's what I'll do."

Veyre is now aiming for the podium in a sport she discovered by chance at the beginning of her adult life. Veyre, who moved to Montreal in the early 2000s while her mother underwent cancer treatments, had no real connections to the sport.

By chance, a friend brought her to a kickboxing class. Veyre didn't enjoy it, but saw the gym also offered boxing, and she was soon hooked.

"I got the bug, because there's a whole strategy, you have to be tactical in the ring and intelligent," she said. "It's that whole strategy that turned me on. I'm really a person obsessed with technique. It's what I adore about boxing."

Veyre was a Pan American gold medallist in 2015 but failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics due to a shoulder injury.

This time, she doesn't plan to waste her chance.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2021.

Frédéric Daigle, The Canadian Press

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