M. C. MARY KOM, 29
BOXING, 51 KG; Imphal, Manipur
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.”