London: Indian boxer L Devendro Singh missed an Olympic medal by a whisker as he went down 18-23 to Ireland's Paddy Barnes in the quarterfinal of the men's 59kg boxing event. On the other hand MC Mary Kom scripted history by becoming the country's first woman boxer to win a medal at the Olympics when she finished with a bronze in the 51kg event at the London Games on Wednesday.
Dev pushed himself gallantly against Barnes but could not survive blows from the same as he was knocked out from London 2012, hence ending all hopes from the boxing ring except Kom’s historical success of bringing back a bronze in women’s category.
Mary Kom, who had been assured of the bronze on Monday itself when she reached the semi-finals, could not proceed further, going down fighting in her pre-summit bout against local favourite Nicola Adams.
Losing 6-11, Mary Kom became only the second Indian boxer after Vijender Singh to win an Olympic medal. Vijender got a bronze in Beijing fours years ago.
Buoyed by the presence of British Prime Minister David Cameron and star professional boxer Amir Khan, second-seed Nicola put up a flawless performance.
From the start, Mary Kom struggled to cope up with the Briton's speed. She came under pressure in the first round, having to fend off Nicola's powerful punches.
A couple of times the 29-year-old Indian, a mother of twins, was pinned in the corner and took some major blows, losing the first round 1-3.
The second round was closer as both boxers tried to assert their dominance. However, the five-time World Champion found it difficult to get her way around her quick opponent, who narrowly edged the round 2-1.
The Manipuri stuck it out in the third round before losing it by a whisker.
The final round went pretty much in similar fashion as Mary Kom found it hard to cope with Nicola's superior size. With time running out, the Indian went hell for leather but fell short and lost the round 2-3.
The Indian shared the bronze with US's Marlen Esparza. Women's boxing is making its Olympic debut in London. Both semi-finals losers are awarded bronze medals.
A happy Mary Kom said she was satisfied with her effort. "It has been a tough journey. I carried on with the support of family and friends. I want to continue playing the game. Despite the loss today, I am satisfied with the way I performed."
Mary Kom's journey to the top of women's world boxing has been an arduous one. With all she has done for the sport, very few people have acknowledged her feats.
Inspired by famous Manipuri boxer Dingko Singh, an Asian Games gold medallist, Mary Kom gave up books for boxing gloves. But she had to hide her interests from her family. All that changed after her victory in the Manipur state women's boxing championship in 2000.
If growing up in the strife-torn state of Manipur was hard, the road to the London Games was harder.
In the inaugural 2001 World Championship, she won the silver and her golden run started in 2002. In 2003, Mary Kom was awarded the Arjuna Award.
Mary Kom became a legend in women's boxing as she bagged a hat-trick of World Championship titles here in 2006. Calls for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country's highest sports honour, became louder but Mary Kom was ignored repeatedly.
The Manipuri fighter vented out her anger after she was ignored despite winning the world title for the record fourth consecutive time in 2008.
Finally, she got the Khel Ratna along with Beijing Games bronze medallists Sushil Kumar and Vijender Singh.
Being a police officer in Manipur, she had to do her job, find time and opponents to practice, and then hunt for funds to build up international experience.
After her success, Mary Kom married K. Onler Kom and has twin sons, Rechungvar and Khupneivar. Not only does she have to lend emotional support to her young family but financially she is the main source of income.
Her husband Onler also played a crucial role in her growth and time and again Mary Kom has given him all the credit. He had to stay at home and cater to their twin sons while Mary Kom travelled the world trying to bring laurels.
After a two-year sabbatical that saw her start a family, Mary Kom came back strongly to win the World Championship twice.
After the news of inclusion of women's boxing in the Olympics for the first time, Mary Kom had to make a huge change, going to 51kg category from the 46kg class, where she has fought for most part of her life.
Laishram Devendro Singh is the only Indian boxer left in the Olympics. He takes on Irish boxer Barnes Paddy in the quarter-finals later Wednesday.
Apart from Mary Kom's bronze, there was another piece of good news for India from the showpiece track and field. Middle-distance runner Tintu Luka qualified for the semi-final of the women's 800 metres.
Tintu, who is coached by the legendary P T Usha, finished third in the second heat with a timing of 2:01.75 seconds. It was below her personal best of 1:59.17 secs achieved two years back.