INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - M.C. Mary Kom gave India’s battered boxing team something to celebrate when she won the women’s flyweight gold medal at the Asian Games on Wednesday.
Kom came from behind to beat Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova on a split decision in the 51-kilogram division.
Her win provided India with its first gold medal in the ring at Incheon after her team mate Sarita Devi lost a disputed decision in the lightweight division the previous day.
Devi lodged a protest after the judges ruled that she had lost her semi-final to South Korea’s Park Ji-na on Tuesday. At Wednesday’s medal presentation, Devi broke down in tears and refused to wear the bronze medal she was presented with.
“I was disappointed with the judges’ decision on Sarita,” Kom said. “Unfortunately, it happens sometimes, since I started boxing.
“We were really upset, but next time, we’ll do much better. I don’t think Sarita failed the trial.
“That motivated me to perform better and I was more challenged. I tried hard to prove who I am.”
Kom, a five-time world champion and Olympic bronze medalist, had to dig deep to beat Shekerbekova, who held her own in the opening round but was unable to hold off the Indian after that.
“It was 50:50 in the first round,” Kom said.
“I didn’t catch up to the opponent. She was very strong, fast and speedy.
“But in the other rounds, I got going and the match started getting easier.”
Kom’s win was her first at the Asian Games after she finished with bronze four years ago and her first major title in more than two years after she took a break to have her third child.
Her amazing career is already the stuff of legends. Just last month, a film on her life was released.
When she started out in boxing, Kom kept it a secret from her parents and it was only when her picture appeared in a newspaper that she confessed she was a fighter.
But success came quick and she emerged as the face of the campaign to get women’s boxing into the Olympics, returning to the ring and winning two world titles after she had taken time out to start a family.
Now 31, Kom is showing no signs of slowing down, targeting gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, despite juggling motherhood with the demands of training and competing.
When traveling for tournaments, she calls her children every night before they go to bed and returns home with toys to make up for her time away.
“I feel really happy. This is my first competition after the London Olympics. I performed very well in the ring,” she said.
“I’ve sacrificed a lot, such as my family. I have only focused on training... I want to give this medal to my country.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty