Mumbai: Mary Kom looks back at 2014 fondly. She’s been omnipresent — be it inside the ring by winning the Asian Games gold or outside it promoting a biopic on her life.
However, as she begins her preparation for the Rio Olympics, Mary has been advised to train judiciously and focus on recovering from the niggling injuries. Mary knows, and expects, the road to Rio to be littered with hurdles.
At 31, she realises age is not on her side and the rapidly evolving women’s boxing circuit will only add to her challenge. “The level of competition has become much higher now than what it was. Even small countries like Myanmar produce tough boxers,” she said.
Even back home, Mary is facing a stiff challenge, as was evident during the Commonwealth Games trials. Pinki Jhangra, who qualified for Glasgow at her expense, has turned out to be a strong contender in Mary’s weight category and will be the main challenger once again for Rio. Yet, the bulk of her preparation for the quadrennial event will be based on fitness. Even at the Asian Games, Mary suffered a hamstring injury. That coupled with a lower back trouble that has been bothering her since the birth of her third child last year has affected her training.
She had to pull out of the ongoing World Championships to focus on rehabilitation. Daily training is still a continuing process, she says, but only in lighter form. “I have to make sure I’m in touch with the game at all times,” Mary added.
She has been advised against heavy and full-scale training because of the nature of her injuries. However, her physio Nikhil Latey is bullish about her return. “If she wants, she can begin proper training immediately and be prepared for a tournament in a week. So it is not that the injuries are overbearing,” said Latey, who works with the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ).
Keeping her age in mind, Latey has expressed a need for the pugilist to train judiciously and pick and choose tournaments carefully. “At this point, it’s preferred that she trains ahead of specific competitions instead of working hard the whole year round,” he said.
Mary is likely to take part only in a couple of international meets next year. Her main focus will be on the 2016 World Championships, which will also double up as an Olympic qualification event. Should she fail at the worlds, she can attempt to qualify by winning the gold at the Asian Championships. The 2012 Games bronze medallist says she is determined to battle the odds for the Rio Games, as it will most likely be her last Olympics. “After Rio it might be continued…