Tokyo Olympics will be my last, says Mary Kom

Ace Indian pugilist Mary Kom, who won the bronze at the 2012 Olympics, says the upcoming Tokyo Olympics will be her last appearance at the quadrennial showpiece event.

Mary Kom

Mary Kom is a six-time world champion and is among India's most celebrated athletes. (File Photo)   -  RITU RAJ KONWAR

Ace Indian pugilist Mary Kom has said that the upcoming Tokyo Olympics will be her last appearance at the quadrennial showpiece event.

Mary sealed her spot in the 51kg category at the Tokyo Olympics at the Asian Olympic qualifying event in Amman, Jordan, in March last year.

“Tokyo will be my last Olympics. Age matters here. I am 38 now, going on 39. Four (three) more years is a long time,” Mary told the Olympic Channel. “Pretty sure, I won’t be allowed to even if I am willing to carry on till Paris 2024,” she added.

Having turned 38 on March 1, Mary is unlikely to be eligible for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The age limit for boxers at the Tokyo Games was initially set at 40 but was extended to 41 after the games were postponed by a year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Mary also felt that her "career's value would have diminished" if she had not competed in the Olympics. The six-time world champion had to wait until 2012 to participate in the Olympics as women's boxing was not part of the event earlier. She returned with a bronze medal in her maiden Olympic campaign.

“It means a lot for me to be an Olympian. I have been boxing for 20 years. I have participated in many international tournaments. I have been the world champion.

“But I had to wait for my turn to take part in the Olympics as women’s boxing wasn’t in the Games until 2012. Finally, it happened, and I am glad it did. I think the value of my career as a boxer would have diminished if I didn’t compete in the Olympics,” she said.

Talking about the prestige of winning at the Olympics, she said, “Olympics is huge. For any sportsperson, participating and winning a medal at the Games is a dream, it changes lives.”

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“Becoming an Olympian and winning the bronze changed my life too. It also inspired many women to take up the sport, especially boxing.

“I feel proud. I want more girls to come out and fight. I hope there are no restrictions on them to come out and fight for themselves and their country,” she added.