India’s “Magnificent” Mary Kom said Thursday she was heartbroken after failing to gain a wildcard for the Rio Olympics, but the five-time world champion stressed she wasn’t about to quit boxing.
Kom, 33, failed to qualify after losing a crucial bout at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan last month, raising speculation about her future.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist had been pinning her hopes on a last-ditch plea for a wildcard spot, but the International Olympic Committee has now turned down her request.
“I have been duly informed that I won’t be getting a wildcard. It is heartbreaking,” Kom was quoted saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.
“I have to accept this decision but I am not quitting the sport right now. I will continue to compete (while) I am feeling fit and for the time being I think I am fit,” added Kom.
Kom, a household name in India and the subject of a Bollywood film in 2014, always faced an uphill battle to secure a spot. Only one wildcard entry was on offer for each of the three women’s boxing categories in Rio in August.
“The IOC has ruled that the (wildcard) will be given only to countries which have had less than eight participants in last two Olympics, and India had eight boxers in London,” Kishen Narsi, chairman of India’s ad hoc boxing committee, told AFP.
“They had taken the call in the previous meeting that they will stick to the rule of any country with less than eight participants in any sport. So it’s a call that they have taken and we have to fall in line,” said Narsi.
Despite her disappointment, Kom, a mother-of-three who hails from a poor family in the neglected and remote state of Manipur, insisted “the future is good”.
“I am aware that retirement is something that would be talked about a lot, but for the time being I have dropped the idea,” said Kom, dubbed ‘Magnificent Mary’ after she won her fifth world championship title in 2010.
“Of course I would be spending more time at my academy training young kids but I will continue to devote as much time to my training as well.”