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For Mary Kom, the final round is still far away

By Unnikrishnan
Mary Kom

Bengaluru, November 10: Confidence in her voice is unmistakable as the words roll out. But the phenom of Mary Kom is beyond mere words.

Mary Kom is 34. She has spent 17 years in the ring - giving and taking countless blows en route to five world titles and an Olympic bronze. She is the mother of three children. Enough reasons for many athletes to think of life beyond the competitive venue.

But she is not ready to think of the finishing line. "There's Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast, Australia) next year. I need to be at the top of my game and fitness for it," says Mary.

The awareness to regain top level fitness came in rather painful circumstance. A back muscle injury severely curtailed her movements and affected her performance in Ulaan Baatar Cup this July.

This was also the time Mary was returning to her pet weight category - 48 kg - from 51 kg. "It was a disappointing outing, but I learned the need for me to regain top fitness and adjust my fitness regime. If I am 100%, then there are few who can beat me," she says.

Mary Kom after winning the gold at Asian tourney

The Asian Boxing Championship at Ho Chi Minh city was Mary's first real big outing in three years. It's a long gap by any yardstick, especially in a sports like boxing where speed and footwork matters a lot.

Did Mary had that bout of self-doubt? Was she worried about the next generation of pugilists who took over in her absence.

"Never. Yes, all these girls are very wise and know how to go about their career. They are at a better place than me at the corresponding time in my career. But as I said there was no doubt over my ability and it was all about be in the top shape so that I can compete. In that space, as I said, few boxers can hope to beat me," she says.

"It was all about training hard and keeping myself fit. I and the coach also put in some extra sessions in that direction," she notes.

Nearly five years back, Mary Kom discarded 48kg - her favourite weight category - and migrated to 51 kg. There were doubts about her ability for a successful mid-career transformation.

After all, in boxing those little nuggets like three kg have massive significance because they affect the overall agility of a boxer.

"In fact, there was not much difference between 48 and 51. Just that I feel more powerful and comfortable at that category. It's all about adjusting your weight by right training and diet and be mentally ready for the competition. Your speed and movement will not be affected a bit," she explains.

The big challenge for her is to stay fit for the upcoming competitions. She's ready for it. "At 34, I need some different training than say when I was 25 or 27. It is not reinventing the entire session but some little adjustments. In any case, I have never shied away from training and kept my focus on staying fit."

"I don't make too much out of not getting qualified for the Rio Olympics 2016. I had never felt at that stage I was done with my boxing career," she says.

So that's it. She's in for a fight, all over again. For now, a trip to Switzerland beckons for the AIBA meeting. Then there will more training sessions. And more bouts.

Welcome back 'Magnificent Mary.'

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    Story first published: Friday, November 10, 2017, 17:41 [IST]
    Other articles published on Nov 10, 2017
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