Medals eluded them but not the spotlight as the Indian men's boxing team shared the dais with London Olympics bronze-winning woman pugilist M C Mary Kom at a felicitation function organised by sponsors Monnet Group in New Delhi on Thursday.
Mary Kom (51kg), who is hopping from one felicitation function to another, smiled through the proceedings as she collected Rs 11 lakh cash award from the company at a ceremony also attended by Indian Boxing Federation President, Abhay Singh Chautala.
The seven-member men's team -- comprising Beijing Olympic bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg, Manoj Kumar (64kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), L Devendro Singh (49kg), Sumit Sangwan and Vikas Krishan (69kg) -- were handed a collective prize money of Rs 10 lakh for putting up a fine show nonetheless.
Except for Vikas, the entire team was present to collect the cash award.
"I am not good at making a speech so please forgive me," said the 29-year-old Mary, who was the lone Indian in fray when women's boxing made its Olympic debut in London.
"I hope to turn this bronze into a silver or gold in the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro," she added.
Chautala said the men could have also returned with a medal from the British capital had it not been for the erratic refereeing that marred the Games, prompting the International Boxing Association to suspend judges and overturn the result of a couple of bouts.
"We were cheated otherwise, the men would have also got a medal. But I congratulate them for their effort and overall performance," he said.
His views were echoed by IBF Secretary General P K Muralidharan Raja, who was also the Chef-de-Mission of India's Olympic contingent.
"Their performance was lauded by the International Boxing Association (AIBA). The bouts we lost were very close and almost everyone accepted that they belonged to us," he said.