| ‘Despite the loss today, I am satisfied with the way I performed... (Nicola) Adams was very clever, a counter- puncher. But although she carried power, she wasn’t very tactical’ Mary Kom |
London: Wednesday was not magnificent for Mary. But it was memorable for her and her country.
Not magnificent for the simple reason that the five-time world champion was outclassed by home favourite Nicola Adams of Great Britain 11-6 in a one-sided 51kg semi-final, at the Excel Arena.
But memorable as the pint-sized Super Mom’s bronze helped India to record their best performance so far, in terms of medal haul, in Olympic history. Four medals of which three are bronze!
With British Prime Minister David Cameron and Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan in the audience and a vociferous crowd backing the local girl, M.C. Mary Kom was on the backfoot during the eight-minute contest.
Nicola, a former film extra and a part-time painter, will now take on China’s Ren Cancan in the final. It will be a repeat of the World Championship summit clash in China, where Cancan won the title.
Mary Kom was beaten, but she was not battered. The ExCel arena was aware of Mary’s reputation as a legend in women’s boxing. As she left the arena, the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
Already a 29-year-old, one is not too sure whether Mary Kom would return to the Olympics again, but her resume is something very few would be able to match. An Olympic bronze, five world and four Asian titles!
The Indian fans were sad but did not feel let down. A couple of young girls wrapped the Tri-colour around the mother of two as Mary trudged back into the dressing room.
“I am sorry that I could not win a gold medal,” said Mary Kom after the bout. “I know the entire nation was praying for me… I am sorry for that. But at least I am returning with a bronze medal,” she added.
Nicola was delighted. “I had beaten Mary Kom in the World Championship… I beat her again today. You have to be special to become a five-time world champion and she lost to me twice. I think that shows my class,” she said.
Though Mary Kom said she was disappointed not to be awarded a few points in the third round, which she lost by a narrow 2-3 margin, the British girl was better than the Indian. You cannot dispute that.
She was too strong and too savvy for Mary Kom, who had to come up one division above her natural weight to ensure her Olympic participation.
Mary Kom had no answer to Nicola’s height and reach. After both the fighters entered the ring, Mary Kom went straight on the offensive. But she could not make much of an impact.
Nicola helped her score with a pair of left jabs. Mary Kom returned with a punch. The Indian, however lost the first round 1-3. That gave her the momentum while her diminutive opponent always had a catching up job to do.
Nicola continued to enjoy the upper hand in the second round and two of her right uppercuts helped her stretch the lead by a further point to 5-2.
The lead was further widened in the next round as Mary could not score too many points. Nicola held a four-point lead going into the fourth and final round and she kept her calm to book her place in the gold medal bout.