Set for her final Olympics, Mary Kom underlines the 'Olympian' value

Age limit might make Tokyo 2020 Mary Kom’s final bow but the Indian boxer is happy to have had the opportunity to become an Olympian.

By Utathya Nag

En route to what will most likely be her final Olympics in Tokyo, Indian ace MC Mary Kom believes her career as a boxer would have lost sheen if she had failed to become an Olympian.

The London 2012 bronze medallist has already qualified for Tokyo and will be travelling to Japan in July this year for her second Summer Games.

Mary Kom acknowledges it just may be her last hurrah at the Olympics, regardless of her intentions to carry on or not.

“Tokyo will be my last Olympics. Age matters here. I am 38 now, going on 39. Four (three) more years is a long time,” Mary Kom told the Olympic Channel.

For participation in Tokyo 2020, the age limit set for boxers was initially 40. With the Games deferred by a year due to COVID-19, it was extended to 41.

Having turned 38 this March, Mary Kom will be over the current limit by the time the next Olympics in Paris 2024 rolls around.

“Pretty sure, I won’t be allowed to even if I am willing to carry on till Paris 2024,” Mary Kom laughed.

The record six-time boxing world champion, however, noted, she feels her career has already been vindicated courtesy of her being an Olympic medal winner.

“It means a lot for me to be an Olympian. I have been boxing for 20 years. I have participated in many international tournaments. I have been the world champion.

“But I had to wait my turn to take part in the Olympics as women’s boxing wasn’t in the Games until 2012. Finally, it happened, and I am glad it did. I think the value of my career as a boxer would have diminished if I didn’t compete in the Olympics,” she said.

Mary Kom ended up winning the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Explaining what it really meant for her, the Manipuri pugilist said, “Olympics is huge. For any sportsperson, participating and winning a medal at the Games is a dream. It changes lives. Becoming an Olympian and winning the bronze changed my life too.”

“It also inspired many women to take up sport, especially boxing. I feel proud. I want more girls to come out and fight. I hope there are no restrictions on them to come out and fight for themselves and their country,” she added.

Mary Kom, who recently clinched the bronze medal at the Boxam boxing meet in Spain, also expressed his desire to see more women’s weight categories being added to the Olympics boxing itinerary in the coming years to facilitate equal opportunity as men’s.

Currently, there are eight weight classes for men and five for women’s.