CHENNAI: MC Mary Kom is synonymous with the World Championships. On Thursday, the 36- year-old veteran showed just why. At an age when most athletes would be struggling to stay fit, let alone be challenging for medals, the six-time champ showed why she’s a rare breed.
Outfighting Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia — 2016 Olympic bronze medallist — in the quarterfinals of the ongoing World Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, on Thursday, the mother-of-three secured an unprecedented eighth medal in the marquee event. This was also her first medal in the 51kg category in this competition. “This is a big deal. And it’s a proud moment for all,” Chhote Lal Yadav, Mary’s coach and assistant coach in the national camp, beamed.
Performance director Raffaele Bergamasco was equally delighted. “Mary was clever as ever. I asked her to control her aggression and focus on her counter-attacks. She worked on that strategy and won,” he reflected.
The serial winner made it look effortless. Her determination and will are well-documented. Soon after a record sixth gold in 2018, Mary had said that “her preparations for 2020 Olympics begins tomorrow”. Chhote Lal hinted on how Mary goes about behind the scenes. “We undergo smart training, the coaching methodology has changed,” he said.
“Earlier, it was two hours of training without a break. Now it’s around 45 minutes to an hour. It is fast-paced and explosive. Then we have recovery.”
That cerebral form of training has only added to her game. It is reflecting in her performances, the manner in which she deals with her rivals based on their styles. Having shifted to 51kg — considered one of the toughest — just recently, she had to up her game. So far, she has done just that. “Mary’s ultimate dream is Olympic gold. And the Manipuri is driven. This performance should help put in good stead ahead of the Olympic qualifiers next year,” Chhote Lal said.She may already have made history, but she is not resting yet. “I will try my best and hopefully win gold,” Mary said. She’ll face Turkey’s Busenaz Cakiroglu on Saturday.
Rookie Manju Rani, who idolises Mary, also had a memorable outing. The 48kg boxer stunned top seed Kim Hyang-mi of North Korea in the quarters, securing a medal. This is her first Worlds. The Assamese duo of Jamuna Boro (54kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) also won their respective quarterfinals to take India’s medal tally to four, matching last year’s haul.Lovlina, who won bronze in 2018, wants to change the colour. “It’s good to win a medal again. However, I want gold this time. I’m focussed on that.”Two-time bronze medallist Kavita Chahal (+81kg) suffered a loss in her quarterfinal.