Tammara Thibeault’s place in boxing has changed quite a bit since her quarter-final loss at the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer.
After unplugging from her sport following the Games and getting back to the drawing board, Thibeault enters the Commonwealth Games as the newly-minted middleweight world champion with a target on her back.
Going from chasing the top, to being at the top does not faze the 25-year-old, who trains out of Montreal.
“I’m very confident, but now I’m the one to beat. Obviously, I’m confident but I’m very aware of the position that I’m in and I can either be content with what I have or elevate the sport — and that’s my goal,” Thibeault told CBC Sports.
Born in Saint-Georges, Que., and getting her start in the sport at the age of nine in Regina with her father, former CFL player Patrick Thibeault, her climb through the ranks has been gradual but impressive.
Thibeault won bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and followed that up with a silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games, along with bronze at the worlds the very same year.
The Olympics became a dream manifested to reality in 2021 when she represented Canada in Tokyo.
But a loss to Dutch boxer Nouchka Fontijn in the quarter-finals kept her from earning a bronze medal and being the first Canadian woman to stand on an Olympic boxing podium.
“Obviously I was disappointed but I really enjoyed it. It’s not exactly what I wanted but honestly, I was very proud because just to get to the Olympics in Tokyo, it came with a lot of adversity that was really out of my control.
Following a reset from a “month or so” break after the Games, Thibeault returned to the big stage at the 2022 worlds and defeated Mozambique’s Rady Adosinda Gramane by unanimous decision before taking down Panama’s Atheyna Bylon in the final to win gold.
The win represented a big leap for Thibeault, who is only scratching the surface of her career’s trajectory.
“[The Olympics] did burn a fire within her,” national team coach Samir El Mais said. “She’s an Olympian, and she’s still a sponge. She’s continuing to learn, she’s continuing to understand her abilities de ella more and more, and you could tell from what had led her to here — her progression de ella throughout the years.
“Now this is the height of her career, she’s touching it and I feel she needs to continue on and if she continues on, she’ll continue to be a world champ.”
WATCH | The Olympians: Tammara Thibeault:
Bringing aggression, ‘meanness’ out
With the “huge milestone” in her career now behind her, the focus turns toward earning another gold medal in another competition.
In the process of that preparation, a focus has been to bring the “meanness” out of Thibeault, who has made her love for “pretty boxing” known in years past.
“The one thing that I know about her, is that she can actually crack — she can hurt people,” El Mais said. Ella She could throw some good power shots. Ella She could actually hurt people if ella she wanted to. I’m just trying to find a way to get that out of her.
Winning gold at the Commonwealth Games would only further her position as the best in her class — and a strong favorite to medal at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Standing on the podium in Paris would make her the first Canadian to do so since the 1996 Games when David Defiagbon earned silver.
But Thibeault doesn’t get ahead of herself, instead focusing on the process she marches forward with.
As she balances being a full-time urban studies student at Concordia University with her boxing career, Thibeault pushes through carrying one quote she’s learned coming up as a youngster.
“Your work habits determine your future.”