We boast about Sachin Tendulkar's achievements in international cricket and consider him the greatest exponent of sports in the country. One must not forget the records set by Mary Kom, who also has been the biggest name in her sports and has made India proud on several occasions.
Mary Kom is a bonafide champion of boxing
who has amassed six World Championship gold medals along with silver and bronze. No other female boxers could ever repeat the feat that the Manipuri has set. In fact, in the history of boxing World Championships, no other fighters, including males and females, have won eight titles - a feat that Mary can probably cherish through her lifetime. Besides, she has won gold medals at prestigious tournaments like Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and also Asian Championships.
Being hailed as one of the greatest in her sports, the only elite title that's missing from Mary's kitty is the gold medal at the Olympics. The 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist has since then left no stones unturned in her bid to win the elusive gold.
In fact, she has reiterated constantly over the last couple of years, "There's no secret mantra for me to achieve at the World Championships or the Olympics. I will keep fighting and will not give up until I win the gold for India at the Olympics,"
The 38-year-old Khel Ratna awardee is gearing up for a swansong at the Tokyo Olympics
, the event she waited for another year as it was postponed amid the outbreak of the COVID-19.
How much chance does Mary have to win gold at Tokyo Olympics?
Mary Kom has consistently been a representative for India in the 51kg women's boxing category. She played all her competitive bouts in this category since the 2012 Olympics when women's boxing was first introduced in the Games in London.
Mary was among the eight boxers who had competed in the Games and finished third among the eight to bag the bronze. At the 2016 Rio Games, no one, including, Mary could qualify for the women's boxing event. Owing to its popularity, more competitors started taking up boxing for the Olympics and fought for 12 spots in the 51kg category. Mary couldn't sail through the qualifications and was left at home when a 117-member Indian contingent travelled to Rio.
Mary Kom in action at Asian Boxing Championships in Dubai
For Tokyo Olympics, Mary bagged a quota at Asia-Oceania Boxing Qualifiers in 2019, Jordan, and in the same year, she also finished with a bronze medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championship. Mary's qualification to the Olympics wasn't as difficult as2016 because a total of 26 boxers will be playing in the event. However, the competitive scale will be much higher in Tokyo Olympics than what she faced in London 2012.
In London, Mary played her first match in the quarterfinal and reached the semifinal, and a semifinal entry ensured her a medal, which means she technically had to play just a single bout to earn a medal. The equation will be totally different in Tokyo, where she will have to win at least three bouts to make sure an entry into the semis, and then another two bouts to win the gold medal. Mary will have to win all five bouts to bag the coveted gold, which still looks difficult as she is not the best boxer in her category. Korea's Chol Mi Pang and Turkey's Busenaz Cakiroglu are ahead of her in the AIBA world rankings.
The recent string of performances
Since her qualification for Tokyo, Mary Kom could enter two competitions as most of 2020 she couldn't participate because of coronavirus outbreak. Mary played her first tournament in a year at the Boxam International Boxing Tournament in Castellon, Spain in March. Here Mary finished with a bronze medal losing in a split decision after an exhausting contest that was also messy in equal measure against American Virginia Fuchs. Mary returned to court again in May at the Asian Boxing Championships in Dubai and finished her campaign with a silver medal after going down fighting against two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay in a high-octane 51 kg final. Mary Kom has been a top athlete for a long time now, but it still impresses one and all as to how she manages to contest every bout with the same passion and determination.
Mary has to punch above her weight to win the gold medal. It doesn't look impossible. However, with age not by her side, Mary would face extremely stiff competition in her race to the gold medal. Maybe, another bronze medal, is practically what we can expect from her. However, the 2012 Olympics bronze medallist, cannot have a better departure from professional sport than wrapping up with the most coveted silverware in the world - the Olympic gold medal. Though one who is always exuberant about the Manipuri, believes the pugilist who has earned so much global recognition for India deserves an Olympic gold, it is easier in papers than it's been done.