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Friday, January 22, 2021

Gold and Growing

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Gold and Growing
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Mary Kom proves that determination and hard work lead to victory

“I cannot guarantee the result, but I can guarantee my 100 percent effort,” Mary said just before leaving for the Incheon Asian Games. Having given birth to her third child just last year and having failed to qualify for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Incheon was much more than a ‘Games’ for magnificent Mary. It was the stage to prove her detractors wrong for the umpteenth time in her career, and demonstrate that it is foolish write off a true champion.

Mary, by every yardstick, is already a legend. Winner of five world championship titles and awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in July 2009, she came back from a two-year sabbatical to take a shot at the Incheon Asian Games gold. Since making yet another comeback, she had done everything in her capacity to prepare herself for the Asian Games. This included giving the promotions on the film of her life a miss, despite knowing that these would have given her a lot of publicity. Busy training in Patiala, Mary was livid when the trials for the Asian Games were rescheduled. It was clear she wanted to get the qualification over and done with. Onkholor Kom, her husband (Onler to friends and colleagues), was with her all the while and together they faced an adversity they least expected to come their way. Could Mary win the qualification and represent India at Incheon?

Once that was out of the way, Mary had good reasons to feel confident. “I have done all I need to do, and well. In terms of my preparation there is little more that I could have done. I have my strategies chalked out for Incheon,” a confident Mary asserted, on landing in Korea. Viren Rasquinha, CEO, Olympic Gold Quest, and Mary’s most trusted advisor, concurred with her. “She trained the best she could. An inspiration for thousands of Indian sportswomen, Mary Kom is much more than a sportsperson. As it turned out she was busy cooking for her children and thereafter doing the dishes. A five-times world champion doing the dishes is simply unheard of, I thought to myself. It only happens in India, and this is one of the reasons why Mary, irrespective of what she does hereafter, is already a living legend.

What distinguishes Mary Kom from her contemporaries?

Rasquinha provided the best answer. “She is naturally gifted. But talent can only get you to a level and no more. Mary is determined to put in the hours needed even at this stage of her life, to fine-tune her talent and make it back to the top. To come back after a two year sabbatical isn’t easy, but Mary has adjusted well,” he said. Humble yet determined, Mary is forthright when it comes to answering the critics who had written her off. “A few people had started writing me off. According to them I was too old and past my prime. The 2014 Asian Games has already been a good one for India’s ageing sporting greats. Abhinav Bindra who did brilliantly to win bronze in the men’s 10 metre air rifle event. Yogeshwar Dutt who went a step better and won the country’s first wrestling gold in 28 years. Then it was Sania Mirza who, against all odds, won her eighth Asian Games medal, partnering with the lesser known Saketh Myneni in the mixed doubles. Every win is just the beginning of more. Rio beckons and we won’t be surprised to see her give many more film promotions a miss to train her best at Patiala, to do her country proud. A tearful and proud Mary wrapped in the tri colour at the Rio gold medal podium – that’s when the curtain will finally come down on this unrivalled career. For the moment though, let’s celebrate this gold like no other

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