Legendary Mary Kom (left) looks the other way after winning the bout against Nikhat Zareen in the 51kg category finals of Olympics 2020 qualifiers in New Delhi. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Nikhat Zareen and Mary Kom exhibited emotions that were polar opposite of each other in the aftermath of the much-awaited bout between the two on Saturday at the women’s trials for the Olympic qualifiers in New Delhi.

Mary was clearly charged up, yanking her hand away from Nikhat when the latter initiated a hug immediately after the bout and later lashed out at the 23-year-old and the media in her interaction with the reporters.

Nikhat, however, maintains that her fight was not against Mary but against a system that was not giving her a fair chance to prove herself in her weight category and go for the big competitions.

“Even I never imagined that all this will happen,” Nikhat said on Sunday. “It was very new for me. I never expected that she will get so angry on me for going on Twitter and writing a letter to the sports minister. If she is taking all that personally that’s her choice, I can’t comment on that. I was fighting for a fair trial. I was fighting against the system, not Mary Kom or the federation. I was saying that there should be a proper trial before every competition. That’s it.”

There were murmurs that the trials before the 2019 women’s World Championships, which is where the saga between the two boxers had started, did not happen at Mary’s behest. She has voiced her disdain at having to give trials in the months since. On Saturday, Mary said that High Performance Directors Santiago Nieva and Raffaele Bergamasco had said that selection would be done on the basis of performances in international competitions and she had asked for an exemption on that basis.

Nikhat however feels that Mary should be ready to go for trials so as to give the younger boxers a chance to get a measure of themselves, if not anything else. “She is a legend so she shouldn’t have anything to fear. We are all juniors in front of her. She should always be ready for the trials and be a good example for the youth. Now she has defeated me and gone for the Olympic qualifier and everyone is happy which would not have been the case if she had gone directly without giving anyone else a chance to even assess themselves against her. Hume bhi pata chale hum kitne paani me hai (We should also know where we stand). We should know where we are lacking and for that I stood up and raised my voice. There should be a trial before every competition. I lost the bout but I won hearts on that day and I am happy,” she said.