Tokyo, July 29 (PTI) How does one end up losing despite winning? Sounds odd? This is what happened to one of India's greatest sportspersons in her final Olympic outing.
Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom's (51kg) pursuit of a second Olympic medal ended in the pre-quarterfinals of the Tokyo Games as she went down to 2016 edition's bronze-medallist Ingrit Valencia in a fiercely-fought showdown here on Thursday. The funny part: Mary Kom had actually won two of the three rounds.
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"I don't know what happened, I thought in the first round, we were both trying to figure out our strategies and I won the next two," said the perplexed legend after the bout. The Indian trailed 4-1 in the opening round with four of the five judges scoring it 10-9 in favour of Valencia.
In the next two rounds, Mary Kom got three of the five judges to rule in her favour but the overall scoreline was still in favour of Valencia. The Manipuri clinched the third round too but once again, it was 3-2 and not 4-1 which is what she needed to swing the final score in her favour.
The 38-year-old, who is a multiple-time Asian champion and a bronze-winner from the 2012 London olympics, lost 2-3 to the Colombian, giving it her all in what would now be her final Olympic bout. Mary Kom had tears in her eyes and a wide smile on her face when the referee raised Valencia's hand at the end of the bout, exhausted after the intense clash.
Despite the heartbreak, Mary Kom said she has no desire to call it quits just yet. "I can still fight, I am still strong enough. If you have will power (you can fight), of course training is also important along with discipline. I have been fighting for 20 years," she said. "Manipuri people have fighting spirit both men and women. But women have extra," laughed the mother of four, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP.
The way Valencia rushed in when the first bell rang, it was quite obvious that the bout would be high voltage and it was exactly how it turned out to be. The two were attacking each other from word go and Valencia seemed determined to avenge her previous two losses to the icon.
The Manipuri veteran fought back to claim the second and the third round, landing her trademark right hooks to perfection. She also deserves credit for keeping the intensity consistently high despite the draining fight.
"I don't understand this scoring system, how did she lose the first round 1-4 when there was hardly anything separating these two?" national assistant coach and Mary Kom's personal trainer Chhote Lal Yadav told PTI. "It is a disappointment but that's luck I guess," he added. The Indian had earlier beaten Valencia in the 2019 world championship quarterfinals.
Like Mary Kom, the 32-year-old Valencia is a trailblazer for her country. She is the first female boxer to have represented Colombia at the Olympic Games, as well as the nation's first female boxer to win an Olympic medal. There was mutual respect on display though with Mary Kom offering a warm hug to Valencia, who proceeded to raise the Indian's hand to show her admiration.
"When I look at my memories, it's been incredible. It's very easy to say I'm a one, two-time world champion, but in reality, doing that is not easy. You have to have a unique personality," said Mary Kom, a truly unique sporting icon whose achievements would be hard to surpass for a while.
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