In the countdown to the 2016 Rio Olympics, we retrace some memorable Indian moments at the quadrennial games. Today, a look at MC Mary Kom’s bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Even though MC Mary Kom, the face of Indian female boxing, might have missed out on a ticket to Rio, what she achieved at the 2012 London Olympics helped change the landscape of Indian boxing.Heading into London, Mary Kom won her world amateur titles in the 46kg and 48kg categories, but the lightest of the three weight brackets at the Games was 51 kgs. A stiff task indeed. The only Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Olympics, she not only competed in the flyweight category, but ended up winning a bronze medal at the sporting extravaganza. She had scripted history.

Mary Kom defeated Karolina Michalczuk of Poland 19-14 in only the third ever women’s boxing match to be fought at the Olympics. In the quarter-final, the following day, she defeated Maroua Rahali of Tunisia with a score of 15-6, and with it, the assurance of a bronze medal. It also made her the third Indian woman after Karnam Malleswari and Saina Nehwal to win an Olympic medal. For Mary Kom, who missed her twins’ fifth birthday, this was precious birthday gift.

In a low-key first round, she gained a slender 2-1 lead and a couple of meaty blows in the second round helped her increase the lead to 5-3. However, just like in her previous bout against Michalczuk where she launched a furious assault on her opponent, Mary Kom employed the same strategy in the third round. A couple of right hooks followed by a fierce one from the left was enough to soften Rahali up. The 11-4 scoreline in the third round was the decisive lead that Mary Kom needed. A podium finish had been guaranteed. In the semi-final though, she was up against local favourite Nicola Adams and could not proceed further as she went down fighting in her pre-summit bout. She displayed heart but was no match for Adams, who won comprehensively 11-6. Following her triumph in London, she won her first gold medal at the Asian Games held at Incheon in 2014 by beating Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova in the flyweight (51 kg) summit clash. Accolades followed, expectedly so. A biopic was made on her and did reasonably well at the box office.

She may have missed the Olympic bus this year, but Indian boxing owes Mary Kom a lot if the contingent is to return home with a medal.

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