CHENNAI: Split decisions, especially close ones, are always cruel. For the players, it’s dreadful. It leaves both the winner and the vanquished perplexed: winner feels it was an outright win, the loser believes it wasn’t a loss. For viewers, it depends on who you support. The point system in boxing always has been and will continue to be a mystery.
On Thursday, Mary Kom was deciphering her loss but couldn’t find a solution to one riddle: how could she lose after winning two rounds? Even after a couple of hours after the loss, while chatting with this daily, she couldn’t believe the result. Between deep breaths and occasional loss of words, she was trying to explain her predicament. The 38-year-old mother of four put up a strong fight against Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia in the 51kg. She believed she had won. She raised her hand a split second before the PA system howled the winners’ name. It was a tight fight and the scores did reflect it.
“Yes, I thought I won,” she said. Her voice sounded heavy. That Mary Kom-esque giggle was missing. “I won two out of three rounds and that means I won. Even when I was going for doping control, I did not realise I lost. I was so sure that I won that I raised my hand even then. In my corner, even the coaches were shocked. Even the first round I thought it was not 1-4 against me because there were not too many punches. But then, I don’t know how the point system works, I lost despite winning two rounds. Well, it will take time to get over this.”
With age not on her side, the six-time world champion needed to work very hard to reach here. She fought a bout of dengue and managed to recover just before the Asian Championships in April. Her concern was her endurance. On Thursday, the way she came back from the first round deficit showed she had worked on it. The ageing limbs were moving astutely finding ever so slight openings offered by Valencia, the Rio bronze medallist.
As the third round approached, and towards the end, Mary’s movements became laboured. She looked a trifle tired too. She was gasping and panting while removing the gloves before getting ready for the results. “I have the endurance of an 18-year-old!” she exclaimed. “I have a very strong will and determination and that keeps me going. I work very hard. I was fine even after the third round.”
With Tokyo dreams shattered, she has fixed her eyes on the Asian and Commonwealth Games next. Mary is not ready to give up. “I will play till I am forty,” she said. “I am still fighting well and winning. I have some boxing left in me. Even my fans and my country want me to continue.”
Though 40 was the age limit in boxing earlier, but this Olympics it’s suspended because the international boxing association rules are not being followed here. With the new AIBA officials taking over, there might be changes to the rule.
As for the Olympics, Mary said she would not take a decision right now. “Let me fight till 40. If my body allows, I will continue. I will have to see then. If my body gives up, I will stop. But I think Asian and Commonwealth Games is doable.”