London: Mary Kom entered the semifinals of the women’s flyweight boxing competition after a facile 15-6 win against Tunisia’s Maroua Rahali on Monday afternoon. Unlike Sunday, where she was overtaken by emotions and the pressure of a closely-contested fight, Mary was much more in control of herself today. With folded hands she greeted the crowd and the media after the referee declared her the winner at Excel Arena. Excerpts from an exclusive post-match chat:
Q: You are much relaxed today. How do you react to today’s match?
A: On hindsight, the tough match against Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk on Sunday stood me in good stead. I got a good workout against the Polish girl and Monday’s fight against Maroua Rahali of Tunisia was easier. I am still thinking about Karolina. She was so powerful. I had a great escape against her and that made me much more focused against Maroua.
This is the first time I fought the Tunisian girl. She didn’t have great credentials. Although she had a better reach that I did, we were equally matched in weight. Hence, her punches were easier to bear. Although I tried to stay away from her jabs, she did land a few on me and won some points. But I knew what to do with her after two rounds.
Q: Round 3 was quite good for you.
A: I knew I had to use Round 3 to score the maximum points. I went on the aggressive from the start but she caught me by surprise by throwing punches. But I could find leaks in her defence. She wasn’t reading my straight and upper cuts and I scored from these. I feel she was a bit hurt and was not focusing well.
Q: You have won India their fourth medal of the London Games. You must be happy.
A: By entering the semifinals, I have ensured a medal for myself. But I am not satisfied yet. While I feel proud to win India a medal, I am eyeing a gold medal and if I can maintain my form and Jesus keeps blessing me, I will be the champion. That’s my commitment to my country and the boxing fraternity in India. I have worked really hard before I came to the Olympics. The good training in Liverpool is really helping.
Q: The fans were rooting for you constantly.
A: The fan support has been just fantastic. I believe Saina (Nehwal) also got similar support. London is a historic city. India had won a hockey gold here after our Independence. If I can win a boxing gold, it will be doubly special. Every time I win, I remember my God. I just read the Bible whenever I am alone at the Games Village. That’s the best way for me to unwind. I don’t like too many distractions. Coach Anoop Kumar has been doing a good job at my corner but my personal trainer Charles Atkinson has been in touch with me every day. He has been omnipresent.
Q: How did you celebrate on Sunday? What did your kids tell you?
A: Sunday night was quite special. I had to take some time out for my husband and mum who are here in London to support me. But my thoughts were with my (twin) sons, who celebrated their birthday on Sunday. I called them up in the evening and they didn’t know how tough a match I had against Karolina. That’s the beauty of being a child. My sons were not worried about my results. One of them wanted a skate board, another demanded shoes for doing roller skating. They want a lot of toys and I had to note their shopping list. I am probably the most unique mother in the Olympic competition. I really want to buy them all the toys in the world. I am sure God is listening!