Asian Games bronze medallist L Sarita Devi failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics while five time world champion Mary Kom’s hopes are hanging by the slimmest of threads after the two boxers lost in second round bouts of the AIBAWomen’s World Boxing Championships in Astana on Saturday, says a report in The Indian Express.
With four quota places on offer in each of the three Olympic weight categories, the two boxers had to reach the semifinals to book an automatic berth in the Rio Games. Mary Kom (51kg), who was a bronze-medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, lost 0-2 to Germany’s Azize Nimani, while Sarita was beaten 0-3 by Victoria Torres in the second Round of the 60kg division.
According to the Indian Express report, the only Olympic hope left for India in the event is Pooja Rani (75kg), who is in the pre-quarterfinals after winning her opening bout on Friday. “Owing to her fourth place finish at the Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifiers in March this year, Kom still has a small chance of making it through. Only the finalists — China’s Ren Cancan and Uzbekistan’s Yodgoroy Mirzaeva — at the Continental qualifier had earned an automatic quota. However both Cancan and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu-ting — who had finished third after beating Mary in a box-off are competing at the World Championships. If Cancan and Yu-ting earn a quota in Astana, they relinquish their quota from the Asian qualifiers which then passes on to Mary,” says the report.
According to a report in the Hindustantimes, for 33-year-old Mary, Rio would have been her second Olympics after London in 2012, where she became the first Indian woman — and only the second Indian after Vijender Singh (bronze, Beijing 2008) — to win an Olympic boxing medal.
“I believe God has a different plan for me. I want to thank all my fans and my support team for not letting me down in this crucial moment. I wish our remaining Indian boxers all the best and I hope they make our country proud,” Mary Kom said, adding that she gave her best.
“Meanwhile, for former world and Asian champion Sarita Devi, 31, Rio would have been her comeback after a one-year ban for refusing to accept her bronze medal at the Incheon Asiad, protesting what she called an unfair verdict,” says the Ht report.
“It’s a great setback as Mary is not only the country’s most popular woman boxer but also the face of Indian boxing. Her absence from Rio will have an impact on the popularity of the sport in the country,” said Gurbax Singh Sandhu, chief national boxing coach.