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Tokyo Olympics | Confusion marks Mary Kom’s exit

Columbia’s Valencia Victoria Ingrit Lorena raises hand of Mary Kom after the end of their bout in women's Fly (48-51kg) Round of 16, at Olympics 2020 in Tokyo on July 29, 2021. Mary Kom lost the bout via a split decision.   | Photo Credit: PTI

A smiling M.C. Mary Kom raised her hand in celebration at the end of her 51kg pre-quarterfinal bout against Ingrit Valencia. It was only later, while skimming through social media, did Mary finally realise that her Tokyo 2020 Olympic journey was over.

The referee had declared her Colombian opponent the winner in a 3-2 split verdict.

The six-time World champion and 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist was left shell-shocked. The 38-year-old, who won her last two rounds, seemed to have done enough to keep her Olympics dream alive, but the judges thought otherwise.

Unfortunate decision

Mary was upset with the verdict later. She told journalists that she had no inkling about her loss.

“The decision was very unfortunate. I thought it was a clear win for me. I came out and gave an interview and didn’t realise the decision had gone against me. I thought I would come back with a medal, but I don’t know what went wrong. We can’t appeal as the organisers don’t have a provision this time. I still can’t believe I have lost the bout,” said an emotionally distraught Mary.

Valencia took Mary by surprise, darting at her as soon as the bell rang and took the fight to the Indian in the opening round. Mary took time to gauge her opponent’s tactics, while Valencia was on the attack right from the start. The Colombian won the round 4-1.

Mary came back strongly and threw some ferocious punches to pocket the second round. And despite winning the third, the final decision did not go in her favour.

Split decision just a name

“Can I have some water please?” she asked as she walked into the mixed zone, gasping for breath after her bout. “Split decision is just a name [term]. Both of us didn’t fight in the first round as I tried to make out her gameplan and strategy. There was no accuracy or strong punches from either of us,” she said, still unaware that she had lost.

Mary had won her earlier two bouts against Valencia and the duo had also shared a few sparring sessions during the Indian team’s pre-Olympics training camp in Italy.

Despite the result, Raffaele Bergamasco, foreign coach of the Indian women boxers, was happy with the effort of his star boxer. “I am happy with her performance, she gave her best. I have a little preference for my boxer, but I feel Mary was the clear winner. But we will not be protesting the decision,” he said.

A last-minute jersey change because of the organisers’ objection did not upset her rhythm, felt Mary. “I don’t know what was wrong with them. One official came and said Mary Kom should not be on your jersey, only your first name should be on your back. But I used the same jersey (with the full name) for the first bout. I have to fight in the ring only, and was not distracted because of the jersey issue," she said.

Will continue

The boxer from Manipur said she intended to go on despite the heartbreak. “I have been fighting for 20 years. I’m a mother, I have four kids and have been fighting continuously and achieving much. I will play till I am 40,” she said.

The official age guidelines of the boxing federation will not allow her to participate in the next Olympics. The current age cap is set at 40 and Mary will be 41 by the time the 2024 Games are held in Paris.

Satish beats Brown's challenge

Satish Kumar won his bout to advance to the +91kg quarterfinals.

Satish, the first Indian super heavyweight boxer to qualify for the Olympics, gave a good account of himself to beat Pan American bronze medallist Ricardo Brown 4-1.

The 32-year-old Indian set up a clash with top seed and World champion Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan.

Satish, who mixed his left jabs and right hooks to good effect, swayed away and stayed safe from the blows of the Jamaican giant.

After the Indian took the first round 5-0, the Canada-based Brown stepped up his attack. Satish, despite getting medical attention for a cut above his left eye, battled with determination and won the second 4-1.

Satish continued to elude Brown’s grasp and delivered some fine counters in the third. A frustrated Brown even head-butted his Indian opponent, but could not stop him from winning 4-1.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 11:07:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/tokyo-olympics-boxing-confusion-marks-mary-koms-exit/article35613760.ece

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