Having created history by claiming a record sixth title at the women's World Championships, legendary boxer MC Mary Kom is determined to fulfil a lifelong dream by winning a gold at the 2020 Olympics.
"It has been my dream to win gold at Olympics ever since I started boxing. I have overcome many challenges in my life to become a world champion. I have already won gold medals at Asian Games, Commonwealth and multiple other medals in other world championships but now my vision is set at winning the gold medal at Olympics," Mary Kom told IANS in an interview.
There has been speculation that boxing may not feature at the 2020 Tokyo Games since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reportedly unhappy with the way the sport is being run by the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Mary however, brushed aside such concerns.
"For the last two years, we have received immense support from BFI, SAI and the ministry. We have full faith in them and are sure that all the three bodies clubbed with AIBA will make the right decision for boxing," the Manipuri icon asserted.
Mary Kom, who uses Nestlé EVERYDAY while relaxing between her hectic training schedules, fought in her original 48 kilogram category after a considerable gap since she was concentrating on the 51kg division, since it is the lowest category at the Olympics.
"For the last three years, I was fighting under the 51Kg category and it was only during this World Championship that I returned to my (48kg) category. It was a new experience as I fought against new opponents," she said.
"This World Championship gave me a chance to assess the strengths and weaknesses of opponents in the 48 Kg category which I had lost track of since the past few years. Overall, it was a great experience," she added.
"During the World Championships, I have observed those who are fighting in the 51kg category. I have got all the videos ready and will watch videos of prospective rivals in the 51Kg weight category."
Winning six world titles and an Olympic medal, that too in different weight categories, is not an easy task. But Mary has performed it with consummate ease throughout her illustrious career.
"Switching between weight categories is not a one day task, it is a rigorous process but you learn to manage it with experience. After competing in both 51Kg and 48Kg, I have learnt that the best way to beat the weight challenge is to know and understand the game of your opponents as everyone has a different style and technique. As per my opponents game, I plan my game," she said.
Mary also asserted that better infrastructure and financial support is essential to improve India's performance at the world level.
"Indian sportspeople have huge potential and talent but many sportspeople are not able to start competing while young due to the lack of sporting infrastructure, except perhaps in a few metros," she said.
"But now that seems to be changing, substantial cash incentives for winning performances, besides subsidies for coaches, trainers and dieticians are all being involved in the preparation of athletes."
(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)