'Magnificent Mary' enters World C'ship finals

'Magnificent Mary' enters World C'ship finals

Mary Kom (48kg) defeated Alice Kate Aparri of Philippines 8-1 in the semifinals to assure herself of at least a silver in the sixth edition of the event.

The former Khel Ratna awardee will now face old rival Steluta Duta of Romania who defeated Kazakhstan's Nazgul Boranbayeva 10-5.

However, there was disappointment as well for India when Kavita (+81kg) settled for a bronze after losing 2-14 to Ukraine's Kateryna Kuzhel in the semifinals.

But Mary Kom, a mother-of-two from Manipur who is the only boxer to have won a medal in each edition of the World Championship, ensured that the Indian camp had something to cheer about.

"I am very happy to have come so far. I will do my best to win a gold even this time but I am not thinking too much about it because I need to focus on my game. If I fight well, I will win," the diminutive 27-year-old, who clinched a silver in the inaugural edition and hasn't settled for anything less then a gold ever since, told PTI.

In yesterday's bout, Mary Kom was slow off the blocks and was in fact down 0-1 in the first round.

"I did not attack much in the opening round. I was just observing her. I needed to be patient before going for all-out attack," she said.

Mary Kom had last faced Aparri way back in 2004 and had come out triumphant and she made sure that her all-win record against Filipino remained intact.

The Indian got her first point in the second round and went on the offensive in the third, landing five scoring blows. She added another couple of points in the final round, while denying Aparri any chance with her swift foot movement.

"I wouldn't say it was a very easy bout but it was not too tough either. I covered up the points in the third round. I am confident about myself and that helps," Mary Kom said.

Talking about Duta, whom she had beaten twice in the finals of the World Championships (Delhi 2006 and Ningbo City, China 2008), Mary Kom said she never takes her opponents lightly.

"I never take my opponents easy. On her day anybody can be dangerous. I have beaten her twice before and that gives me a good feeling but I can't really say whether it would be easy or tough," she said.

"All I can say is that I am confident and will do my best to clinch a gold. I know it would be historic but I don't want to put myself under pressure by thinking about all this," she said.

Mary Kom's tremendous run notwithstanding, it has been a disappointing tournament for 2006 champions India. A record 72 countries are participating in the current edition and the increased competition has affected India's tally with just two medals assured this time.

"The competition has increased but more importantly, how other countries have caught up with us. Women's boxing is now an Olympic sport and we have to re-invent ourselves to remain competitive," conceded Indian Boxing Federation Secretary General Col P K Muralidharan Raja, who attended the event here.

"The coaching system has to be re-looked and the IBF will work out all this once the Championships is over," he added.

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