London:: India’s Mary Kom won her first-round 51-kg bout against Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk at the Excel Arena on Sunday afternoon. Mary won this historic fight -- women’s boxing has debuted this time at the London Games -- 19-14. The 29-year-old Mary spoke in an exclusive chat. Excerpts:
Q: It was quite a tough fight. The Polish girl competed quite well
A: Oh yes. It’s such a relief to win my opening bout in the London Olympics. It was a special day in my life for many reasons. First of all, today my twin sons are celebrating their fifth birthday in Imphal and from a professional point of view, I became the first Indian woman to step into an Olympic boxing ring. I am overwhelmed by emotions.
Q: How focused were you before this match?
A: There has been a lot of pressure on me after I did not qualify for the Olympics directly. Having lost in the world championship in China, many thought I was over the hill and only travelling to London on the strength of my records. I definitely want to prove my critics wrong.
Today was the first step towards a goal that I reckon will be one of the toughest to achieve in my career. You can’t compare the Olympics with any world championships. The sheer magnitude of the Games dwarfs any other tournament by comparison and ever since I joined the Games Village on August 2, I am dumfounded by its aura and atmosphere.
Q: How will you rate Karolina. This was your first fight against here
A: I had said that the opening match with Karolina Michalczuk will be a tricky one and it turned out to be so. Like any European girl, she was extremely powerful and threw hard punches. I had studied her videos when she was fighting in higher weight categories. Luckily for me, Karolina did not change her technique too much. So my plans worked well with her. If she had modified her techniques, she could have even beaten me.
Q: What’s next?
A: It’s just the first step towards winning a gold medal. I have the second seed Nicola Adams of Great Britain in my half of the draw and if there are no upsets, we should see each other in the semifinals. Right now, I am overtaken my emotions. A boxer, a mother and more importantly, a patriotic India, I have so a lot of dreams in my eyes.
Q: There was so much support for you. Aren’t you amazed?
A: It was great to have my husband Onler and mum cheering for me. But I was stunned by the cheering from the stands. I am realising the spirit of the Olympics. I must thank the federation, the ministry and of course my well-wisher for making this day possible. Pray for me, India.