Hail Mary Kom full of grace

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By: John S. Shilshi

Even as Manipur and the rest of India watched their favorite daughter entered the Excel boxing Arena in London with whispers of prayers on their lips and clenched fists, Mary Kom went down putting up a brave fight against a superior opponent, Nicola Adams, the local favorite. The physical advantage that Nicola enjoyed over Mary proved to be a telling blow for a contest of this level. The crowd support behind Adams could at best be describedas something like Mary would have got if the bout was to take place in the Arena at Khuman Lampak. Lose or win, the Olympic medal was already there in her kitty and India’s medal tally. But the determination of Mary Kom to go beyond the third best was all evident in her fight. Finally, she lost the bout,but still won us the all-important Olympic medal. Most importantly, Mary also won the hearts of one and all, including those of Nicola Adams supporters, including the British Prime Minister, David Cameroon, who filled the Excel Arena and outshouted the Indian spectators cheering for Mary. At the end of the final round, when she shrugged her shoulders and walked with an honest swagger, and not with a drooping shoulder losers normally display, the packed stadium applauded in appreciation.

Immediately after losing the bout, which many common men who do not understand the technicalities of boxing would consider as “crazy”, simply because two women of unequal height and physical built were pitted against each other, Mary was humble and apologetic in her remarks.

“I want to tell the Indians that I’m sorry I could not get a gold medal, but I’m satisfied because I gave it all” Mary Kom

The comment was a spontaneous expression of her feeling, which is a reflection of her humility and humbleness, and true to her humble village background traits. The larger than life image she enjoys, especially after achieving the impossible of being five time topper in world boxing, and now the all-important Olympic Medal,did not deter her from being resentful and apologetic for failing to touch the ultimate best, which was the collective desire of her countrymen. By her humble utterance, Mary had conveyed a message, especially to all her fraternity that besides achieving greater heights in their respective discipline, it is also equally important to be good human beings.

James Coomarasamy interview Mary Kom, who won a bronze medal yesterday after failing to beat Nicola Adams in the semi-final.
James Coomarasamy (BBC World Service)interview with Mary Kom, who won a bronze medal yesterday after failing to beat Nicola Adams in the semi-final. She’s one of India’s biggest sporting stars, while at the same time being a mother of young twins. Photo Copyright and courtesy: BBC World Service Facebook Page

Mary Kom actually is already a household name. She is an iconic figure for the youth of Manipur, the Northeast and India. But this medal is special in more ways than one.In her earlier feats, India and Manipur did not have the opportunity to see her perform live. Whereas, her bouts in this Olympics were watched by close to a billion anxious Indians as it happens, with honest prayers and sincere good wishes so that she wins. Thus, while in the process of scripting a new Olympic history for Manipur, the Northeast, and India, Mary had integrated Indians emotionally, which is good for the country. Secondly, her entry into the Olympic itself has united the people across community in Manipur, and now the success would be celebrated together. During these few days, Maryalso became the darling of India through her superb performance, and took many mainstream Indians closer to the North East, including Amitabh Bachhan.

In the meanwhile, it would be unfairnot to recognize the gutsy performance of young Devendro Singh Laisram during this Olympics. The lad fought his heart out to advance to the third round. He lost the next, but not in shame. He displayed a spirit full of future, only to be dislodged by a superior opponent, again a little bit of mismatch as far physical built was concern. One hopes that Devendro would continue to carry the Manipur boxing torch once lit by Dingko Singh, and kept alive by Mary. For the present, the people of Manipur would surely like to seeIndia and Manipur extending equal warmth and accolade when they return home.It would also be unfair to make no mention about the contributions of other Indian sportsmen and women during this Olympics. Barring the dismal performance of the men’s hockey team and the huge disappointment from AbhinavBindra in shooting, Indian athletes/sportsmen have shown grit and determination and emerged as serious contenders. Unlike the good old days when Indian athletes go to the Olympics only to participate in the opening ceremony and fail to qualify beyond first rounds, the present crop in various disciplines are confident lots, and ready to take on their opponents, which is an encouraging sign. It will, however, not be an overstatement to say that in order to improve India’s futureOlympic showing, the Northeast region must be made to play a significant role.

Last but not the least, besides the joy she provided us through brave showing on her way to the Bronze medal, it was nice to see Mary lower her head in prayer before every bout. On being declared the winner in the quarter final bout against Marouna Rahali of Tunisia, we saw Mary looking heavenward, with finger pointed towards God. She was probably thanking God at that point in time. For all the joy and happiness you gave us, we want to say, Hail Mary full of grace, may the Lord be always with you.

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