Five-time world amateur boxing champion Mary Kom believes next month’s World Championship will be the biggest challenge of her career when she makes one final bid in the 51-kg category to make it to the Rio Olympics.
The 33-year-old boxer from Manipur, who won a bronze in the 2012 London Olympics, says her biggest strength is her never-say-die attitude. “Every time people write me off, I come back with a vengeance and invariably win a gold at a major international meet,” says a smiling Mary Kom in an exclusive interview with Sportstar on the sidelines of a promotional event here on Friday.
“I am not aware of what the possible field will be. Anyhow, once you are there, you have to be at your best and that’s what I always try to do in any event. The onus is on me to prove once again that I am the best in India in my category,” says the five-foot two-inch boxer who has to make it to the semifinal to be in contention for a slot in the Olympics.
It may be mentioned here that Mary Kom earned the right to take part in the World Championship in Kazakhstan next month by virtue of her win over arch-rival Pinki Jhangra in the selection trials, in Delhi, on Thursday.
“I never spoke anything about her and will not do even now. I always try to project what I am and what I am targeting. I am here by virtue of my strength and performances and not because of the mercy of anybody,” insists Mary, bidding for a slot in a second consecutive Olympics.
“Let me make a couple of things clear. First, my dream was to win an Olympic medal and I realised that in the London Games. Since I am chasing the bigger one of winning gold, I am not so naïve to think that it will come on a platter. Hours of real tough training have begun and I am determined first to qualify for the Rio Games and then aim for the gold,” she explains.
Mary Kom does confess that there will be a lot of pressure on her when she figures in the World Championship next month. “Yes, having missed out the qualifying mark (by not reaching the final of the Asia-Oceania championship), I am aware of the huge expectations and also the kind of pressure that will be there. But I know how to handle it,” she observes.
“Age is definitely not a factor as I believe my fitness is as good as it was four years ago at the London Olympics. For all the training and planning have not started just now. It has been on for the last four years thanks to a very supportive husband who is taking care of our three kids,” she says with a big smile.
Interestingly, Mary Kom was least interested in the IPL and the related controversy saying that she doesn’t follow the cash-rich tournament and hence is not keen on getting into any kind of debate.
The Rajiv Khel Ratna recipient also reminds us that she is yet to take a final call on retirement, contrary to earlier reports that the upcoming Olympics will be her last. “No, no. I have not yet decided. I may or may not,” she quips.
“I am just looking at my fans across the country from different sections of society to pray for my success. I badly need their blessings,” concludes the former Asian Games gold medalist.