Mary Kom: I apologize for not winning an Olympic medal

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Boxing legend Mary Kom’s last chance at Olympic glory came to an abrupt end at the pre-quarters of the women’s flyweight (51kg) category at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics when she lost to Colombian Ingrit Valencia in a 2:3 split decision. Surprisingly, Mary Kom did not even realise that the bout was awarded to the opponent until a tweet notification from Kiren Rijuju shocked her ten minutes after the match ended.

Talking about the indifferent treatment meted out to her at the start of the match and the poor judgment of the bout, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist alleged that she was mentally harassed just before the start of the match. “Just 10 seconds before my bout I was asked to change my jersey by officials who I am guessing were from the IOC. I argued over this a bit, but my fight was about to begin and was running out of time,” said Mary Kom.

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“They gave us a different T-shirt saying this what I will have to wear or else I cannot go out there. My coaches also tried to reason, but we did not have the time to argue. I thought it will be better to follow what there are saying, and get on with the match. At that time I did feel they were trying to harass me mentally just before my bout,” she said.

Mary Kom also expressed her surprise after her coaches told her that the first round was awarded to Valenica by four out of the five judges, despite the fact they barely landed punches on each other. “After the 1st round, the score was 1-4 in favour of the other opponent and I could not believe it, as we did get into a proper fight. I could not understand it. Yet, in the next two rounds I gave my best and I thought I had it won. But, I still don’t understand how I could not win. I felt so bad when I realised it, and this is the first time I had faced such poor judging.”

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The 38-year-old, multiple-time World champion who was eyeing her second Olympic medal, said the loss did not sink in even after she had gone for her dope test.

“I wanted to win a medal for India and to be honest, in the ring I believed I had won and for 10 minutes after that also it never struck me that I had lost the match. I had missed the announcement that was made in the ring, because in my mind I had it won and I had raised my hand also. Later, when I was in the doping room my coach told me ‘you were the winner, don’t be sad’, and I was still not able to understand why he was saying this. It was only after I got a mobile notification from Kiren Rijiju that is when I realised that I had actually lost the fight and I could not control myself emotionally. And the rules now are such that we cannot challenge the decision or review the fight.”

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With Mary Kom bowing out without getting on to the podium, this is the end of the road for the pugilist when it comes to Olympics. AIBA rules do not allow boxers aged over 40 to compete at international competitions. Mary Kom will be 41 by the time Paris Olympics in 2024 will be held. Mary Kom, though is, is still hopeful of participating in the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games set for next year.

“I could not give back to the people who prayed for me, wished me luck and supported me in this campaign. I had promised Rijiju sir, I will at least get a medal, if not the gold. I wanted to give him a return gift of sort, but that is not possible now. It cannot be fulfilled, winning the medal for the country. I am thankful and grateful to all the fans and I want to tell them that keep supporting all our boxers in Tokyo. I want to apologise to India for not winning an Olympics medal,” she added.

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