Ace Indian pugilist punches her way to first Asian Games gold; sets eyes on 2016 Olympics qualification
Despite five World Championships and a host of other gold medals, MC Mary Kom remains motivated to achieving more. Her collection, which has Asian Championships, too, needed an Asian Games gold and after missing out on it in Guangzhou in 2010 — where she had a bronze — she finally added the coveted prize here in Incheon.
MC Mary Kom holds aloft the Indian tri-colour after her victory over Zhaina Shekerbekova of Kazakhstan in the gold medal clash of the 51kg category yesterday. Pic/PTI
Subject of a highly acclaimed biopic, in which superstar Priyanka Chopra plays the reel 'Mary Kom', the real-life boxer stays focused on her long term goals.
Yet, no sooner had she completed this task, she made it clear, "My eyes are on the next World Championships and then, of course, qualifying for the Rio Olympic Games." She has an Olympic bronze, so she clearly wants to improve on that before calling it a day and focusing on the Mark Kom Academy.
Even though the Sarita Devi controversy took centre-stage for quite some time, no one could take away the limelight from one of the greatest women athletes India has produced. Mary rallied from being behind on points in the first round to outbox Zhaina Shekerbekova of Kazakhstan to win her first gold in an Asian Games. It was also India's seventh gold at these Games.
Coming back to the ring after her third child, quite aptly called 'Prince', 'Queen Mary' dominated the last two rounds against an opponent, who was six years younger than her.
After a cautious start, if only to study her opponent, and avoid any 'mishaps' of the kind that felled Sarita Devi, Mary won the second round on a split decision 2-1 and then outclassed her rival in the last two rounds at the Seonhak Gymnasium.
Mary Kom (right) punches Zhaina at the Seonhak Gymnasium. Pic/AFP
Elated at her win, she said, "This is my first competition since the Olympic Games. I am a mother of three kids. I sacrificed everything, left my family only to focus on my training. It's only because of my country's support that I have managed to reach this level."
While she was happy at winning the gold, she was clearly still upset at having been dropped from the Commonwealth Games team, for which she lost a trial to Pinky Jangra. She said, "I was really disappointed with that. It was not a free and fair trial but that gave me inspiration to prove myself. People should know, I am doing double (the) hard work and (will) give gold (to the team)."
Mary, normally an aggressive boxer, admitted to a slow start, "It was 50:50 in the first two rounds. I couldn't catch up as the opponent was fast and strong. I couldn't get my timing right too. But in the third and fourth rounds, I picked up."
She was sympathetic to Sarita, and said, "It's been happening for many years now. Those who are hosting the games get support. We knew who won the bout and we were very upset. Next time, Sarita will do even better."
She was clear what she wanted from these Games. Before the final she had mentioned, "Our preparation has been good so far and we are looking forward to the Games. I am definitely aiming for gold medal and a bronze will certainly not suffice this time."
Mary, who says she was inspired by another Manipuri, Dingko Singh, who won the Asian Games gold medal in 1998, is also an ardent admirer of boxer Laila, the daughter of legendary Muhammad Ali.
Now, she is not just an inspiration for a generation o boxers, she has inspired more and more women to sport.
The number of World Championships MC Mary Kom has won till now. She also won bronze at the London Olympics in 2012