Mary, Saina have tough road ahead

Kirti Patil
Monday, 8 October 2018

Boxing champ and badminton star have much in common as they dream of winning medals at 2020 Games

PUNE: Magnificent Mary as she is known and Saina Nehwal share a common bond since 2012 London Olympics and as age catches up with them, the two heroines of their respective disciplines have in sight the next Olympics—2020 Tokyo Games—which could probably be their last chance to better the colour of the medals they won six years ago.

Both MC Mary Kom and Saina had returned with bronze medals from London and as the countdown for 2020 Olympics already begun the two have focused their sights on what could be their last Games, and they know the road ahead is riddled with challenges.

“In every sphere there are challenges but I am ready for anything that will help me win an Olympic gold,” said an unassuming Mary during an interaction on the sidelines of Herbalife Fit Families Fest, which she flagged off on Sunday morning in company of Saina.

I know Olympics is two years away, but preparations have to start now. I am, however, focusing on winning my sixth World title at the AIBA Elite Women’s World Championship scheduled in New Delhi from November 15 to 24.

Mary, who began as the pinweight boxer (46-kg), which brought her the first world title in 2002, now competes in 48-kg class for the last 10 years, has a totally different challenge once the upcoming world championship gets over.

From now on, women’s boxing no longer will have 48-kg as weight category, something that Mary will have to really work hard to get ready for the 2020 Olympics.

“Putting on weight is not a problem, but then I will have to be able to carry myself in the new class as there will be more competition given that boxers from two weight categories will merge to compete for one medal,” explained Mary.

Though Mary wouldn’t want to dwell on the uncertainty that boxing is facing now with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) freezing total communication between the World boxing body, AIBA, over the concerns of governance, and the threat of kicking the sport out of Tokyo Games, it is by far certain that road is really rough for boxing.

“We are doing our best to prepare for the upcoming tournaments. The youngsters are also training well and have shown results. Unlike in the past when medals were expected from handful of boxers India now has second string who are waiting in the wings,” said Mary.

She, however, restrained herself from pulling punches over the delay in getting Visa for Poland due to bureaucratic wrangling that almost cost her the medal as she was forced to reduce her weight by two kilograms to pass the weigh-in for her weight class.

Mary had gained weight due to long travel and did reduce it through four hours of uninterrupted rope skipping.

Badminton ace Saina Nehwal almost mirrored the thoughts of Mary Kom saying the challenges were many but she will continue to train and play for the country as this year’s performance gave her confidence to dream for more medals from multi-sports events.

Saina won medals at both Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and Jakarta Asian Games, a territory otherwise unconquered by Indians.

“We have got enough time to be ready for Olympics, but one has to remain superfit and avoid injuries, which nonetheless are part and parcel of any sports,” said Saina.

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