What can you say about a 35-year-old mother of three who has battled away in the arena for nearly two decades and has now become a legend in the boxing world and the country?
Mary Kom has now won her sixth gold medal in the world championship of boxing, more than anyone else. What’s truly great is that she is a woman and her victory will inspire many more women to take up sport in the male-dominated scene in India.
What makes Kom exceptional is that she is still not satisfied. She has one big ambition left – the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
She has already begun training for the event. That’s what makes her a great sportsperson – think ahead and plan accordingly.
It won’t be such an easy task for the mother from Manipur. Kom, who won her title in the 48 kg category, will have to battle out with bigger girls in the 51 kg category in Tokyo.
This may prove a tad difficult but Kom is a determined woman whose focus on training and mental toughness is beyond doubt.
If she wins in Tokyo, then it will be one the greatest performances in the annals of Indian sports. Time will tell.
The biggest impact of Kom’s achievement will be on the many Indian women who dared to dream big.
Let’s face it. India’s patriarchal society has often neglected the achievements of women in many fields, particularly sports. They were always treated as second-class.
When you think of India’s best sportsperson it is always cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. The others are just second best.
This is a fact. When the Indian women’s cricket team had a dream run in the World Cup in England, they hardly got media coverage until the last stages.
India’s women’s hockey team also had some moments in the sun but were ignored.
The facilities given to women’s teams in India are pathetic to the say the least. There were at times given cheap hotels to stay in and rough grounds to play on. Their complaints were met with a deaf ear.
This came as male cricketers wallowed in the luxury of five-star accommodation, moved around with film stars and raked in sponsorship money.
Kom’s victory is bound to get many more women into sports. India must capitalise on that.
A study has to be initiated into the condition of women in sports and action must be taken.
We have been excelling in sports with limited participation like cricket. The time has come to broaden the horizon and look elsewhere to make India a world champion in other sports.
Over the last few years, women have been on the forefront of sports in many disciplines. We have fantastic archers, athletes who have potential, weightlifters, tennis and badminton stars, hockey and many more. For such a big country, we have little to show. Start a new front with women and go for gold.
Kom is an example for all in the country. Age be damned!
Salute a true legend.