M. C. Mary Kom, the only boxer – male or female – to win eight world championships medals, was named Sportstar of the Decade at the 2021 Sportstar ACES Awards on Sunday.
“I would like thank the jury and others who have supported me for this award. I am so happy and I wish to achieve more in the upcoming tournaments. This is a big, big motivation for me,” she said on receiving the honour.
“This award is huge. I have been fighting so long, almost 20 years. Being a woman, a girl, a mother – it is not an easy task. I challenge each and everyone, all the sports fraternity, who contribute for the country so much: please contribute for the country as much as you can. Fight like a woman, that is my biggest motto to give you all,” added Mary, who was also named Sportswoman of the Decade (Individual Olympic Sports).
If the Manipuri had stopped boxing before the 2010s came along, she would still have been deemed one of the greats of Indian sports. After a stellar 2000s, which she ended with a fifth consecutive world championships gold medal in 2010, ‘Magnificent’ Mary clinched an Olympic bronze medal in the flyweight category at London 2012. In 2014, the Imphal-born boxer won her second Asian Games medal, improving to gold at Incheon 2014 from bronze at Guangzhou four years previously.
After failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016, Mary won her fifth Asian Championships gold medal in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in 2017. The following year, she won her first medal at the Commonwealth Games, taking the top step of the podium in Gold Coast, Australia. She continued her dominance at the world championships later that year, winning a sixth title, in New Delhi this time.
Going for a seventh world crown in 2019, the veteran fell short but clinched the bronze in Ulan-Ude, Russia.
The 2021 edition of the Sportstar ACES Awards honoured the Giants of the Decade in Indian sport, with the winners being assessing on their performance and consistency from 2011 to 2020. Eleven awards were presented under the popular choice category, which was open to public voting, along with 14 jury awards as well as special recognition awards under two new categories – Sports for Good and Giants off the Field – that recognise the work of organisations and individuals who have used sports for the betterment of society.
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