M. C. MARY KOM, 29

BOX­ING, 51 KG; Im­phal, Ma­nipur

India Today - - SPORTS -

HER STORY When the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion pitched the idea of women’s box­ing as a cat­e­gory to the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, they used M. C. Mary Kom, a five- time world cham­pion, as a case in point. Crit­ics were scep­ti­cal about the Ma­nipuri girl who worked in the jhum fields in As­sam with her par­ents. They ques­tioned her con­cen­tra­tion lev­els when she got mar­ried. When she gave birth to twin boys, they felt a new mother would not be able to train for an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion. The twins are aged five now. And Mary Kom is ready to prove the crit­ics wrong. For the last seven years, she has been nur­tured by the Olympic Gold Quest ( OGQ), a foun­da­tion set up by bil­liards star Geet Sethi and bad­minton great Prakash Padukone. Mary Kom’s ca­reer has been closely mon­i­tored by OGQ CEO Viren Rasquinha. “She has been mak­ing records for a decade, but ear­lier this year she lost in the first round of an Olympic qual­i­fier. This shook her up in time for Lon­don,” he says.

VAN­TAGE POINT Mary Kom has never lost to the same op­po­nent twice. She gauges her op­po­nent’s strat­egy and skill and adapts her game ac­cord­ingly.

CHAL­LENGE AHEAD The tran­si­tion from her reg­u­lar 48 kg cat­e­gory to the 51 kg cat­e­gory will pit Mary Kom against bulkier com­peti­tors.

OLYMPIC RUN- UP At the Asian Box­ing Cham­pi­onship held in Mon­go­lia this year, she de­feated Mon­go­lia’s Alice Kate Aparri and China’s Ren Can­can on her way to gold in her cur­rent 51 kg cat­e­gory. Mary Kom at­tributes her cur­rent form to British coach Charles Atkin­son, who has pro­vided her bet­ter fe­male spar­ring part­ners to train with at the Bale­wadi Sports Com­plex in Pune.

“I want to win first for my coun­try, then my fam­ily and fi­nally my­self. My hus­band stands by me like a rock. He takes care of our chil­dren.”

SUVASHIS MUL­LICK/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

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