Every time Mary Kom achieves a milestone, she resets the bar. The 35-year-old pugilist’s insatiable hunger for winning just keeps on growing. Despite winning the Asian Boxing Championships in Vietnam last month, she continues to be obsessed with the one silverware, not in her cabinet—the Olympic gold. The five-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist says that an Olympic gold is what gives the kick and desire to work that much harder.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Mary Kom said that she had fixed her sights at Tokyo Olympics and was determined to win the gold. ‘I have never won an Olympic gold. But I feel that if I can manage to keep my focus and form I can win the Olympic gold. That’s what keeps me going now,” she added.
‘Magnificent Mary’, as she is also called, also hoped that her favourite weight category was reinstated into the Olympic fold. .”I hope that the 48 kg category is reinstated into the Olympic fold. That's been my favourite category and I would l love to compete in this category at the Summer Games,” she added. It is worth mentioning here that in the London Olympics, her favourite 48 kg category was scrapped and she had to compete in the 51 kg category.
She also pledged that her greatest dream remains the Olympic gold medal. "As long as I am alive, winning gold at the Olympics will always be my greatest dream. That will remain a target until the end of my career," she added.
After winning the Asian Championships in November, Mary Kom has now set her sights on defending her Asian Games title next year. That may prove to be a tall task for the average athlete, especially at 35, an age widely considered old and over the hill for a physically demanding sport like boxing.
Focus and willpower set Mary Kom apart from her rivals. She is determined to overcome the problem of advancing age just as she has defeated every other obstacle that has come her way since childhood. "My real strength is my willpower. An athlete needs to be mentally strong. This is more so in my case as I have had to prove myself to people right from the beginning," noted Mary.
"I have had to face a lot of obstacles. First of all, I am a girl, and as a result, I had to fight initial disapproval from my family and society in general when I took up boxing. Then I got married which meant I had to adjust my schedule and lifestyle. Then I became a mother which meant more adjustment," she added.
"Now I am fighting against age. At my age, it is a challenge to maintain fitness and compete against younger opponents. Now I have grown old for this sport. I have achieved a lot in my career. I have nothing left to prove. But I will keep on competing as long as my passion is alive. I want to wear the Indian jersey and contribute towards my country. I want to win medals for the country,» she added. With India winning five gold and two bronze medals at the AIBA Women›s Youth World Championships last month, Mary Kom is confident that changing social attitudes will see the country achieving, even more, glory in women›s boxing in future.
"Social attitudes towards female participation in sports is changing slowly. Earlier girls from the north, especially Haryana and even those from the south, used to face a lot of problems from their families while taking up boxing. This is true even now to some extent. But attitudes have changed," she asserted.
"People should let their daughters play sports. Only then we will win medals at the Olympics., signs off Mary Kom.