Mary Kom to lead Indian women's challenge in Asian Games

The 27-year-old mother-of-two, who competed in the 48kg division to clinch a historic fifth World Championship title in Barbados last Saturday, was picked for the 51kg flyweight division -- one of the three weight categories in women's boxing which has got the International Olympic Committee's nod for inclusion in the 2012 London Olympics as well.

The team was picked after a second round of trials this morning as the initial trials conducted in Bhopal last month had been deemed "inconclusive" by the Indian Boxing Federation. Mary Kom fought against Meena Kumari and Saritha, a former World Championships silver-medallist, today at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, just a day after landing in India from Barbados.

"I am very happy to have made the team but I am hurt for Sarita. She is a good boxer but both of us cannot be selected for the same weight category. She is my best friend also but what to do, we are in the same weight category now," Mary Kom told PTI after the team's announcement.

"But the good part is that my hard work and patience has paid off and I am very happy about that," she added. But the fatigue hardly showed when the Manipuri took the ring as she dominated her two bouts to get the nod of the selection panel, which has, among others, Manchester Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Mohd Ali Qamar and Indian Boxing Federation Secretary General Col PK Muralidharan Raja.

"She was outstanding in both her bouts. Despite the fact that she was coming into the ring after such a long journey, she fought so well in both her bouts that there was hardly any doubt," said Col Raja. Mary Kom has been dubbed 'Magnificent Mary' by the International Boxing Association for her unprecedented success at the international, which many believe would remain untouched for a long time to come.

The other two boxers picked for the November 12 to 27 Games are Preeti Beniwal (60kg) and Kavita Goyat (75kg). Preeti is the sister-in-law of Commonwealth Games gold medallist Akhil Kumar, who would be defending his bantam weight 56kg category gold medal next month in Delhi.

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