Tokyo: Six-time World Champion M C Mary Kom (51kg) powered into the Olympics’ pre-quarterfinals with a superb tactical victory Sunday over Dominican Republic’s Miguelina Hernandez Garcia. However, Manish Kaushik’s (63kg) Games debut ended in disappointment following a hard-fought opening-round loss.
The 38-year-old Mary Kom, who is a 2012 Olympic bronze-medallist and a multiple-time Asian champion, prevailed 4-1 against a rival who is 15 years her junior and a Pan American Games bronze-medallist. But Manish, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist and a world championship bronze-winner, went down 1-4 to Britain’s Luke McCormack in an edge-of-the-seat clash.
Mary Kom’s bout was also exciting from start to finish. The Manipuri displayed some brilliant tactics to overcome the fight that Garcia put up.
“It has been very painful, the last couple of years, for everybody because of the pandemic and everything shut down. We are all suffering the same problem and every athlete has to train at home, but for us boxers, we need a training partner,” Mary Kom said in the mixed zone after her triumph.
“I am so lucky, I could set up a little gym with equipment and a bag, but the only thing missing was a sparring partner which is the most important for eye contact,” added Mary Kom while talking about the challenges building up to the Games amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
If Mary Kom held back in the opening round to get a good measure of her rival, the veteran was aggression personified in the final three minutes after Garcia bagged the second round with some fierce punching of her own. The Indian will next face third-seeded Colombian Ingrit Valencia, who was a bronze-medallist at the 2016 Rio Games.
“I have all the medals in my hand. It’s not easy to count them, but the difficult part is continuously winning and performing, it’s not easy,” Mary Kom said.”…What is left is the Olympic gold medal. That is what is driving me and pushing me to carry on,” she added.