Mary hungry for Olympic gold

MC Mary Kom. DH File Photo

MC Mary Kom has spent close to two decades slugging it out in the ring but even at 36 one of the most decorated women boxers in the amateur game has no intention of quitting before she gets a chance to land the ultimate prize in Tokyo next year.

The Indian was a bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympics in London and won a record sixth gold at the World Amateur Boxing Championships last year.

Her most recent gold came after a gap of eight years and, with the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, the trailblazing mother of three is not done yet.

"I believe the hunger and desire to take on challenges has kept me going," Mary told Reuters in an interview.

"I always like to challenge myself and accomplish them, it keeps me motivated to take on new ones.

"The new challenge for me is to win my first ever Olympic gold medal."

The pint-sized puncher, who has also won gold medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, had targeted the 2016 Rio Games as her swansong.

Failing to qualify for the quadrennial showpiece was a heartbreaking setback and she conceded the thought of hanging up her gloves had crossed her mind.

"It has happened at times," said Mary Kom, who last month signed a two-year deal with Puma to be their ambassador for women's training in India.

"Because family is equally important, but I believe that's where I have been really lucky as my family has always motivated me to continue boxing and since it is my only passion I have always wanted to achieve more."

Mary Kom won her latest world title at light flyweight but at the Olympics has to move up to flyweight, the lightest of the five categories in Tokyo.

In the past, she has also faced problems in finding the right sparring partner.

"I am focusing on my diet and doing the regular training," said the Muhammad Ali fan. "The weight category will be tough and you have to be really, really focused as there are some good boxers in that category.

"I have a good coach and good support staff who are now capable enough to condition me for the best of opponents and I am going to continue with this."

Boxing's future as an Olympic sport is shrouded in uncertainty with planning for the Tokyo Olympic tournament on hold due to financial and governance issues in amateur boxing's governing body AIBA.

But Mary Kom is not going to allow her attention to stray.

"I think as athletes our focus is to play to the best of our potential and not think of anything else," she said. "Hopefully things will be taken care of." 

 

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