Boxing legend Mary Kom has expressed a desire to represent the country for one last time before the six-time world champion is forced to retire in November this year after attaining the upper age limit to compete in amateur events.
Mary Kom, a London Olympics bronze medallist, will turn 40 in November and won’t be eligible to compete thereafter in international championships, including the Paris Olympics in 2024. She has been targeting the Hangzhou Asian Games in September-October 2023. For that, she is eyeing a comeback to the national set-up in April. Her last international appearance was at the Tokyo Olympics. Mary Kom is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury which she had sustained during the Birmingham CWG trials last June. “I want to play for India before I am forced to retire. I am recovering well from my ACL injury and I am eyeing a comeback at the Asian Games. Hopefully, I will be fit,” she said at a media gathering where she was unveiled as one of the brand ambassadors of the IBA Women’s World Championships to be held from March 15-26. The other brand ambassador is actor Farhan Akhtar.
While Mary Kom has been targeting an Asiad return, it may not happen due to varied reasons. The Asiad will act as a qualifier for the Paris Games. Even if Mary Kom manages to make the cut for the Indian team and goes on to win a quota place, she won’t be able to compete at the Olympics because of the non-eligibility due to her age, which will mean the Indian quota in her flyweight division will go waste.
Besides, she isn’t part of the national camp and injury has kept her away from the boxing ring for almost 10 months. If selected, she will first have to go through the newly-envisaged ‘evaluation test’ process which could pit her against the likes of Nikhat Zareen and Nitu Ghanghas for a place in the 51k g division. Therefore, the India Open in July could be Mary’s swansong.