Everyone expected boxer MC Mary Kom to win a medal. But the colour of the medal mostly depended on whether the diminutive Manipuri could rise against the odds and punch above her weight.
That answer was delivered before a packed arena of 10,000 fans as the Indian boxer bowed out 6-11 to Britain’s Nicola Adams in the flyweight semi-final on Wednesday afternoon. Adams now takes on world champion Cancan Ren of China to decide the gold medallist on Thursday.
“It was not my day. I knew that besides fighting against Nicola in the ring, I had to contend with factors outside the ring as well,” Mary Kom told the media here.
“I think I did my best for India and I am proud I could come here and show what women are made of,” she added.
Mary Kom is a former five-time world champion, but that was in the lower 48kg weight category. With women’s boxing being re-introduced this time at the London Olympics, Mary Kom had to “eat, eat and eat” in order to raise her weight to 51kg, the lowest of the three divisions of women boxing here.
Watched by Britain’s boxing star Amir Khan and Prime Minister David Cameron, Mary Kom was always the underdog and, by the end of the first round, the Indian was down 1-3. A crucial mistake on the Indian’s defence led to Adams catching Mary Kom with a left uppercut, putting the Briton 5-2 up by the end of the second.
The third round was decisive in more ways than one as a barrage of lefts and rights saw the British boxer powering clear with a 5-2 decision in her favour to go 8-4 ahead. There was no turning back after that as Mary Kom battled bravely, but in vain.
“I cannot thank the whole of India for all the support they have given me, but I would like to. I saw there was too much of a difference between the two of us in the first two rounds. I tried out something different in the third, but it was too much,” she said.
On her way to the last four here, Mary Kom had looked unbeatable, first winning against the much taller and bigger world champion Karolina Michalczuk of Poland, and then edging past Tunisian boxer Maroua Rahali 15-6 in their quarter-final bout.
But on Wednesday, everything was weighted in favour of Mary Kom’s opponent. Adams not only had the vociferous backing of the British crowd, but she also possessed a superior height and reach advantage against the 5.2ft Indian.
The world No.2 Adams also had a psychological advantage over the Indian after beating her just three months ago at the world championships. “Whenever there is a challenge I have risen to it. I am sorry I could not do this one more time. I would have liked to head back home with a gold, but it was not my day,” she admitted.