Mary Kom celebrates after her win in the quarter-finals on Monday. (PTI)
Guwahati, Aug. 7: It has become more than a habit for the people of the Northeast to expect more from Magnificent Mary.
Every single soul in the region will sit with bated breath when the five-time world champion spars against fancied British boxer Nicola Adams at the ExCel Arena in London tomorrow evening.
For a region which has seen the 29-year-old M.C. Mary Kom win five world championship titles, a bronze, which she has already guaranteed by booking a semi-finals berth, is certainly not enough from a gold medal prospect.
However, it will no more be a smooth ride as in the last two victories for Mary Kom in her gold quest henceforth, as she will face the world number 2 in the round of four tomorrow.
The Manipur mom is ranked fourth in the world.
The 29-year-old Adams, who enjoys a psychological edge by being a home favourite and having beaten reigning world champion Cancan Ren of China just few months ago, is among the BCC’s top six promising medal hopes of Britain.
Mary Kom went down to Adams by two points in the last world championship.
Both Adams and Mary Kom have scripted history by being the first ever medallists in women’s boxing in the Olympics for their respective countries, having secured a bronze each, winning the quarter-finals yesterday.
Mary Kom has become the third Indian woman after weightlifter Karnam Malleswari and shuttler Saina Nehwal to win a medal in the Olympics.
A win against the Briton tomorrow will guarantee her at least a silver, even if she goes down in the final which could in all probability be against Ren.
Though Mary Kom has been impressive with her swift hooks and upper cuts against both the opponents so far, the former bantamweight (54kg) European champion will enjoy the advantage of height and reach.
Mary Kom told reporters that she had been dreaming of an Olympic medal for a year and wanted “to carry on the momentum for a bigger medal”.
However, Adams told reporters: “It’s going to be a tough match but I am going to have the height and reach advantage and will try to use all my attributes.”
Adams is five-foot-five against Kom’s height of five-foot-two.
Experts, however, said Mary Kom’s speed has been enviably unbeatable in the age group, which she has further improved on lately.
“Mary Kom’s prospects are brighter not only because of her experience but also because of the fact that unlike almost all her opponents, she did not have to control her diet to reduce weight. Instead she had to gain weight, as there is no event for her earlier weight category of 48kg in the Olympics,” Sports Authority of India director in-charge of Guwahati centre Subhash Basumatary, who is himself an avid boxing follower, told The Telegraph today.
Introduced for the first time in the Olympics, women’s boxing is being held in only three weight categories — 51kg (fly weight), 60kg (light weight) and 75kg (middle weight).
She has undoubtedly overcome the only shortcoming on her part, that of her height.
Though all her opponents are not very tall, all of them are at least two inches taller than her. But beating the tallest Rahali, who is 5-foot-six inches, Mary Kom has proved that experience does matter.
It will not be Mary Kom alone that the Northeast will look forward to tomorrow.
The region will also forego its midnight sleep to watch another Manipur boy, L. Devendro Singh, take the ring against Irish opponent Paddy Barnes in men’s light fly weight (49kg) quarter-finals, a victory in which will ensure another medal for India.
Devendro waited for 11 years, staying cool and simple to let his jabs do the talking on the highest sporting platform — the Olympics in London.
The 20-year-old shy and soft-spoken Imphal West lad who made India proud, inching his way to a medal prospect, had a simple upbringing.
A long stint in the Army Sports Institute in Pune helped him beat S. Purevdorj of Mongolia 16-11 in his Olympic debut bout.