As she stepped into the ring, there was a big roar, ‘c’mon Mary, c’mon Mary’, from all corners of the spectators’ gallery. For a while, it looked like MC Mary Kom was fighting in India.
And the magnificent Mary didn’t disappoint either, cruising into the quarterfinal of the 51kg category with ease, defeating Polish boxer Karolina Michalczuk 19-14.
After the win, Mary Kom became emotional and dedicated the victory to her twin sons. “Today is their birthday and I am not with them to celebrate it because I am here to cherish my dream of competing in the Olympics. I want to dedicate this win and want to present them with an Olympic medal on their fifth birthday and, hopefully, I will do it,” said Mary Kom.
Barring the first round, where both boxers were tied on three points each, Mary Kom dominated the proceedings in the remaining three and went all out to keep the scoring machine ticking. In the last two rounds, she was so aggressive that the Polish boxer found it difficult to face her.
“I was never under pressure and knew I could do it. I was confident of a win and I did it. In the fourth round, I had started thinking about my next bout,” said Mary Kom.
“I am really happy and excited. I have been boxing at the international level for more than a decade and was waiting eagerly for the day when I would step into the Olympics boxing arena,” she added.
India's Mary Kom(L) reacts after she defeated Poland's Karolina Michalczuk in their Women's Fly (51kg) Round of 16 boxing match during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Reuters photo
The five-time world champion also thanked her family and the people back home for supporting her.
“I am getting unstinted support from people back home. My family and well-wishers in Manipur are keeping fasts and praying for my success.
“So, winning has become even more important for me. How can I disappoint them?” said Mary Kom.
About her next bout against a Tunisian boxer, she said, "I am very confident of putting my best effort. I am here for the medal and will not go home empty-handed."
All eyes on Vijender
Vijender Singh looked a bit rusty in the first couple of rounds but he is still India’s best bet to win a medal in boxing.
The Beijing bronze medallist faces Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan who is relatively new to this category, having dropped himself to this from a higher category in 2009. Atoev is short in height and that may go in Vijender’s favour. Add to that Vijender’s 7-0 rout of Atoev in the Asian Games final and you have an Olympic medal well in sight.
“I am focused on my bout. It’s the quarterfinals, and here every boxer is good. You can’t take anyone lightly,” said Vijender. The earlier bout has given me confidence and hoe to carry on the momentum. I have played the Uzbek boxer earlier and have beaten him twice and ahead in head-to-head 2-1. Hopefully, I will have another good day in the ring.”
The Bhiwani boxer has shown tremendous determination during his earlier bouts and stuck to a strategy of attack from the inside.