'One Olympic medal changed everything'
She has been a five-time World Boxing Champion but Mary Kom got her bit of fame only after she bagged a Bronze (after losing a gold to Nicole Adam in the 51 kg category) at the London Olympics. As she participated in the women’s boxing championship, introduced for the first time on the Olympic stage, Mary Kom found an opportunity to shine at the world’s biggest sports event.
The lady was recently in town to receive the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year award in the field of sports where Metrolife caught up for a têtê-a-têtê with her.
“It is a privilege when people recognise you and start giving you the same importance like other known sportspersons,” says Mary, who credits her success to everyone supporting her.
Was it the same a few years ago when she was known only in the sports fraternity but unknown outside? “I had no sponsor or any strong support during the initial days of my career. Life was not as it is today. One Olympic medal changed everything. I am getting the attention which every sportsperson strives for,” replies the boxer.
One Olympic medal and Mary’s life has changed. What has been the single biggest change? She replies with a smile, “Before the Olympic victory I used to travel for training and championships but now I am moving around the country for award functions, ceremonies and endorsements.”
Today, Mary has almost every big sports recognition in her kitty. She has been selected for the Arjuna Award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and also the Padmashri. However, she feels that it is difficult to handle these honours.
“Every award is an indication of people’s expectations. It is their love and affection but at the same time makes me accountable – to do something extraordinary in the field of sports.”
Apart from her own sport, what else interests her? “I want to support individual sports in the country.” While agreeing that very few are inclined towards individual and inexpensive sports like boxing and wrestling, Mary wishes to support those who want to pursue these very sports. “People hardly knew about women’s boxing and wrestling before India’s win. I would like to support these and not the more expensive ones like lawn tennis, golf, archery or shooting.”
Expressing concern over the suspension imposed on Indian Olympic Association (IOA) the 29-year old boxer feels it would hamper growth of sports in the country.
“The young sportspersons will end up suffering the consequences of this decision. They will not be able to participate in international events and India’s quest to prove itself in sports may just come to an end,” says Mary.