Hungry for more
A historic fifth successive World Championship gold medal under her belt but star Indian woman boxer M C Mary Kom remains hungry for more and will not consider hanging up her gloves before finishing on podium at the 2012 London Olympics.
The 27-year-old mother-of-two from Manipur brushed aside the rising international competition in women's boxing to clinch a fifth gold medal at the World Championships last night by thrashing old foe Steluta Duta of Romania 16-6 in the light fly weight 48kg finals.
Dubbed 'Magnificent Mary' by the International Boxing Association for her historic feat, the diminutive counter-puncher is the only woman boxer to have clinched a medal in each of the six World Championships, starting with a silver in the inaugural edition in 2001.
"I am overwhelmed and don't even know how to describe what it feels like. I am just so happy to have done it," the former Khel Ratna awardee said after the unprecedented feat.
Balancing a demanding training schedule with the responsibility of being the mother of two young children is not easy but with women's boxing finding a place in the 2012 Olympics, Mary Kom said has a reason to continue doing the tough twin jobs.
"It's very demanding and emotionally draining to leave my sons behind for competing and training. But I have somehow managed to do it so far and hopefully I will continue doing it till at least the London Olympics. I want to win an Olympic medal, don't want to go before doing that. That's my dream," she said.
"I know age would be a factor but if I continue to train hard and remain fit, I think, I would be able to compete and win a medal," she added.
Image: Mary Kom
'I knew her game way too well to get unsettled'
Women's boxing would make its debut at the London Olympics in three weight categories -- flyweight (48-51kg), lightweight (56-60kg) and middleweight (69-75kg).
Mary Kom will have to bulk up substantially for the fly weight division but she is confident of coming through.
"Putting on weight and adjusting to it is always tough but since I would be giving trials for the November Asian Games in the same division, I think I will have enough to time to adjust," she said.
Talking about her bout last night, Mary Kom said she could feel the pressure of expectations but was never nervous against Duta, whom she had beaten in the World Championship finals of 2006 and 2008 as well.
"There was pressure on me but it didn't unsettle me. I was not nervous. I just kept telling myself that I had to win. I kept my cool, observed her in the first two rounds and then attacked her in the third and fourth round," Mary Kom said.
"Although her punches seemed more powerful then last time, I knew her game way too well to get unsettled by that.
In the end it was not very tough because I knew her technique. I am aware of her game," she added.
The just-concluded edition was the biggest in terms of participation with 72 countries in fray but Mary Kom said the competition, at least in her category, was not too tough. In fact, the Indian said it was perhaps her easiest campaign so far.
"I think the first World Champions hip gold that I won in 2002 in Antalya, Turkey was the toughest. This one was easy. I was actually having a good time here," she chuckled.
"My foot movement was good and that helped because you can no longer stay static and out-punch your opponent. You have to constantly move in the ring. Besides, my body felt great, I was in good shape," she added.
Asked whether she thought anybody would ever be able to match her feat, Mary Kom said, "I don't know. It's a sport and records do get broken at some point. I hope mine stays but then you never know what is there in future. I can only continue doing what I do best and that is fight with all my heart inside the ring."
On how she has managed to stay ahead of the continuously improving international competition, Mary Kom said, " It's god's gift and bit of my will power. I don't like giving up without a good fight."
India, who were overall champions in the 2006 Delhi edition, finished with just one gold and a bronze, through Kavita (+81kg), this time and Mary Kom said the rather disappointing performance is a wake-up call.
"We have to bring in fresh ideas to remain competitive. Because women's boxing is an Olympic sport, all the countries are trying hard to improve themselves and even we have to work hard to remain strong contenders," she said.
Image: Mary Kom