India’s five-time world champion boxer ‘Magnificent’ Mary Kom claimed another major title Wednesday and vowed to make up for her failure at the 2012 Olympics by claiming gold in Rio in two years.
“My plan is to go to world championships and use that to qualify for the Olympics,” Kom said after taking the Asian Games flyweight gold in a punishing bout with Zhaina Shekerbekova of Kazakhstan.
Kom, one of the biggest stars of Indian sport, is now 31, but vowed not to end her career.
“Always the Olympics gold. That is the major goal and focus,” she told reporters.
Kom wore a huge beaming smile as she stood proudly draped in the Indian flag to receive the gold after her hard-fought split decision over Shekerbekova in the 51kg class.
Kom admitted she had struggled at the start of the bout against the quick and elusive Kazakh fighter.
“It was 50-50 if I got the decision,” Kom told reporters. “The first two rounds I could not catch her. My opponent was very fast and very strong. A very good boxer.
“It was affecting my timing and I couldn’t do much. In the third and fourth rounds it was a little bit easier to connect with my punches.”
Fears that Kom is past her best were raised when she failed to qualify for this year’s Commonwealth Games after losing in the trials to a younger opponent, Pinky Jangra.
Kom said she used that as a motivation for the Asian Games. “I don’t think that trial was fair, so this provided me with the challenge to prove who I am at these Asian Games.
“So I worked hard, twice as hard as usual. I proved who I am.”
Kom, dubbed “Magnificent”, “Queen” and even “Holy” by India’s media, proved her critics wrong by beating Jangra in a rematch to book her place at the Asian Games.
She revealed how much she had given up in her family life to achieve gold at last.
“Actually I’m a mother of three kids. I made a sacrifice because I left my kids and I left my family and I’m always focused on my training,” she added.
Kom lost in the semi-final four years ago in Guangzhou but her biggest disappointment came at the London Olympics where she again only took away a bronze medal
“I felt I had let the country down,” Kom said. “So I am very thankful and proud to win a gold medal for my country,” she said.