Magnificent Mary nails medal

Magnificent Mary nails medal

Ace Indian boxer strolls into semifinals, to take on second seed Briton Nicola

Magnificent Mary nails medal

M C Mary Kom had a special present for her twins on their birthday, winning her first-round bout on Sunday when women’s boxing made its Olympic debut. On Monday, the Indian boxer had a gift for the nation itself – the assurance of a medal from the boxing ring.

At the ExCel arena, Mary Kom waltzed past Maroua Rahali of Tunisia to enter the semifinals of the 51kg class, ensuring India their fourth medal at London 2012, and creating for herself a small place in history.

The colour of the medal will be known only on Thursday when she fights Nicola Adams of Great Britain, the second seed, in what should be a tough test for the Indian mother of two.

On Monday though, she was largely untested in her quarterfinal bout. Rahali, four inches taller than the Indian at 5-feet six-inches, hardly troubled her Indian rival who kept raking in the points round after round to notch up a 15-6 verdict.

“I am very happy that I have won a medal for my country. It’s a dream come true. I have been working really hard for this.

“But the fight is not over. I will try my best to win my next bout,” she said. Adams, Mary’s next opponent, is a tough cookie. She is the world number two and she has declared her intentions of winning the gold itself in front of the home crowd, having beaten Siona Fernandes of New Zealand in her quarterfinals. Mary will be fighting on sheer will power, after having switched over to a different weight category for the Olympics.

“If my original category (48 kg) had been here, I am sure I would have won the gold medal. It has been tough for me to put on the weight, when I try to eat more, it causes indigestion,” said a relaxed-looking Manipuri.

Against Rahali, Mary made a cautious start. On Sunday  Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk had taken the battle to her but her Tunisian rival wasn’t so much of an aggressor and Mary had the breathing space to make her moves.

The first round barely registered on the score board with Mary leading 2-1 but the Indian stepped up her attacks in the second, taking it 3-2 and went hammer and tongs in the third to widen the gap. A quick combination of punches and two clever rights saw her surging ahead 6-1 for an 11-4 overall total. She maintained the advantage in the final round to trigger celebrations among the Indian fans.

They will be back in numbers on Thursday, when Mary is expected to have a fight on her hands. But one just can’t count this cop out.

“I will give my best,” said Mary. “This is sport, one boxer will win, the other will lose. Let’s see what happens,” she signed off.