Mary Kom creates history, assures India of a medal

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LONDON, Aug 6 (Agencies): India`s five-time world champion Mary Kom beat Tunisia`s Maroua Rahali  2-1, 3-2, 6-1, 4-2, in the Olympic women`s boxing flyweight last 8 bout to guarantee India a medal at the quadrennial event.

This win takes Mary Kom to semifinals of women 51kg boxing. Mary Kom showed her class in the third as she attacked with a flurry of combinations which had the Tunisian ducking and evading.

The Indian, a five-time World Champion, put in a dominant performance. But her style Monday was in stark contrast to her performance Sunday, when she beat Karolina Michalczuk of Poland.

MC Mary Kom (Blue) of India celebrates after defeating Maroua Rahali (Red) of Tunisia in the Women’s Fly (51kg) Boxing Quarterfinals on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 6, 2012 in London, England.

In the first round, she sized her opponent and relied heavily on defensive tactics. She time and again tried to get inside of her opponent to land a punch but the Tunisian was able to keep her distance.

Both fighters did not throw many punches and the round ended 2-1 in the Indian`s favour.

The second round, too, was similar as the diminutive Indian tried to keep away from her taller opponent. Relying on one-off punches, Mary Kom frustrated her opponent with her quick evasive measures.

Fighting conservatively, Mary Kom still was narrowly able to edge out her opponent 3-2.

With only a two-point lead, the Indian put the hammer down as she went for her opponent. Like in her pre-quarters bout, Mary Kom displayed her quick feet and fast hands with a flurry of combination punches.

She stepped inside her opponent, who had an advantage of height, and landed some telling blows. With the Tunisian clearly reeling under the pressure of the punches, Mary Kom went for the kill winning the round 6-1.

The fourth was a formality as the Indian conserved her energy and relied on counter-attacks. Her opponent too seemed to be out of energy, not even trying to reduce the seven-point deficit.

Mary Kom is assured of a bronze even if she loses in the semi-finals.

Mary Kom`s husband Onler Kom said that the pugilist made the country proud after assuring the country its fourth Olympic medal from the 2012 London Games.

“Every Indian will be proud of her. She was quite determined that she would do well and she has done that. She has won the medal she always wanted at last. She has always done well for her country,” Onler Kom told TV channels.

Onler Kom also said that he spoke to his wife before the bout and told her to be careful.

“I told her not to fight in a rough manner, to use all the technique. And she did well. This was the only thing missing from her career and now she has it,” he added.

On Sunday, Mary Kom put on a valiant display as she downed a bigger Polish opponent Karolina Michalczuk to enter the quarterfinals of the 51 kg category.

After winning a bout as fearsome as any of the men`s fights over the first eight days, Kom, one of the pioneers of women`s boxing, was close to tears as she left the ring. She could not hold them back as she told reporters of her long battle to get to that moment.

“I have been boxing for 12 years, I have been trying to play in the Olympic Games,” mother-of-two Kom said, wiping the tears away.

The 29-year-old Manipuri is the lone Indian woman boxer in fray at the mega-event after making the cut in the only qualifying tournament – the World Championships in May earlier this year.

Throughout her career, Mary Kom has fought in the light flyweight category (48kg). However, to adjust to the weight category of the Games she increased her weight to fit into the 51kg category.

This year Mary Kom became the fifth sportsperson to be conferred with the honorary ranks by the Army or Air Force. The other four who have received the honour are cricketers Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Abhinav Bindra.

Mary Kom will have an uphill task in the round of four as she squares off against English boxer Nicola Adams. Adams, a three time World Championship silver medallist, got the better of Mary at the 2012 AIBA World Championship and will be looking to replicate her success against the four times Asian Champion. Mary on the hand will be keen to avenge her WC quarter final loss and secure a place in the championship round.

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