Mary, Lady of the Ring, storms into semifinals

M.C. Mary Kom confirmed another medal for India as she outclassed Maroua Rahali of Tunisia 15-6 in the quarterfinals of the women’s flyweight category at the ExCel Arena here on Monday.

Quite conscious of the need to conserve her energy for tougher battles ahead, the 29-year-old punched her way judiciously against an opponent who perhaps feared the Indian’s reputation as much as her sharp punches and thus did not have the courage to face her square most of the time.

It required some efficiency on the part of Mary, who started cautiously with a 2-1 lead in the first round, to send her punches into the target as the Tunisian was evading more than fighting.

Building up points

The cautious approach continued into the second round as Mary stretched the lead to 5-3. The Manipur lady with five-year-old twin sons could not wait any further and showered a flurry of combination punches in the third round to take a 11-4 lead.

Though the 24-year-old Maroua had the height and reach, not to forget the strength of punch, she lacked direction and was not able to pose much of a challenge to Mary, who was quick with her footwork and quite sharp in avoiding the punches. Mary pulled through comfortably, collecting four more points to two by her opponent in the fourth and final round of two minutes.

“I am very happy. I have been dreaming of an Olympic medal and now I am ready’’, said the five-time World champion, who pointed out that she was still trying to adjust to the higher weight category for the last two years after gaining all success in the 46 and 48 kg sections.

Mary had lost to Nicola Adams of Britain 11-13 in the quarterfinals of the last world championship, which served as the qualifying event for the Olympics. Mary said that she would look for a ‘bigger’ medal to suggest she would not be happy with the bronze.

“Thank God. I will try to reach the final, and then let’s see,” said Mary as she recalled the training with taller and heavier boys in the last few years.

“I am not tired,” said Mary, as she announced her readiness for the return fight against Adams, the runner-up in the world championship to Ren Cancan of China.

The second-seeded Nicola sailed into the semifinals with a 16-7 victory over Stoyka Petrova of Bulgaria. The top-seeded Ren Cancan cut short the run of Elena Savelyeva of Russia with a 12-7 victory.

The Russian had done a good turn for Mary in the last world championship by beating the Korean Kim Hye Song in the quarterfinals, and had lost to Adams. There were only two quota places for Asia in the 51 kg weight category and Mary took the second berth behind the Chinese world champion as her opponent Nicola had reached the final.

The semifinals will be held on Wednesday and the first bout will feature the Chinese against the lively Marien Esparza of the US.

The Cuban coach with the Indian squad, B.I. Fernandez said that it would be interesting to see how Mary, who has preserved her energy nicely for the next round, handles Nicola and the home support for her.

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