ATHENS, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Canadian boxer Trevor Stewardson, who was once told he was not good enough for the Olympics, proved a point with victory on
the opening day of competition at the Games on Saturday.
Together with two other boxers on the Canadian team, Stewardson required a long legal battle with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) to secure his
place in Athens.
"With all that happened I didn't have much time to prepare physically and I concentrated solely on my mental game," light-heavyweight Stewardson said
after outpointing Flavio Furtado of Cape Verde.
"I kept myself completely relaxed," he added. "There was no pressure put on me realistically. Nobody expected anything of me."
The three thought they had done enough to make the trip at a tournament in Rio de Janeiro in April, which was designated as an Olympic qualifier by
the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA).
The problem was that the Canadian boxing authorities and the COC had changed their qualifying criteria without telling the boxers, dropping the Rio
event as they ruled it was not competitive enough.
The three took the COC to court and eventually won, with the result that there are five Canadian boxers in Athens instead of the initial two.
"It was tough for us to get here," Stewardson said. "We're one of the smaller teams that Canada has ever sent and it's one of the toughest draws that
Canada's ever had. We've already done better than many teams."
Another of the trio involved in the legal battle, middleweight Jean Pascal, was also in action on Saturday.
The draw proved tough on Pascal, who was outpointed by Cuba's Yordani Despaigne Herrera.
[Edited on 14-8-2004 by Ocelot]