Six-time world champion M C Mary Kom’s (51kg) bid for a second Olympic medal ended in the pre-quarterfinals of the Tokyo Games on Thursday, when she was defeated by bronze medalist Ingrit Valencia in a hard-fought bout.
The irony is that Mary Kom had won two of the three rounds.
“I don’t know what happened, I thought we were both trying to figure out our strategies in the first round, and I won the next two,” the perplexed legend said after the fight.
In the first round, the Indian trailed 4-1, with four of the five judges scoring it 10-9 in favour of Valencia.
In the following two rounds, Mary Kom convinced three of the five judges to rule in her favour, but the overall score remained in Valencia’s favour.
The Manipuri also won the third round, but this time it was 3-2 rather than 4-1, which would have swung the final score in her favour.
The 38-year-old, a multiple-time Asian champion and 2012 London Olympics bronze medalist, lost 2-3 to the Colombian despite giving it her all in what would now be her final Olympic match.
When the referee raised Valencia’s hand at the end of the bout, exhausted from the intense clash, Mary Kom had tears in her eyes and a wide smile on her face.
The way Valencia rushed in when the first bell rang, it was clear that the bout would be high-octane, and that’s exactly what it was.
From the start, the two were attacking each other, and Valencia seemed determined to avenge her previous two losses to the icon.
The Manipuri veteran fought back to win the second and third rounds, landing her trademark right hooks flawlessly. She also deserves credit for maintaining a consistent level of intensity throughout the exhausting fight.
“I don’t understand this scoring system; how did she lose the first round 1-4 when there wasn’t much separating these two?” national assistant coach and Mary Kom’s personal trainer Chhote La said.
It’s a letdown, but I suppose that’s luck,” he added.
Previously, the Indian defeated Valencia in the 2019 World Championship quarterfinals.
Valencia, 32, is a trailblazer for her country, much like Mary Kom.
She is Colombia’s first female boxer to compete in the Olympic Games, as well as the country’s first female boxer to win an Olympic medal.