'I am still dreaming about winning the gold in 2020 Olympics'
India's M C Mary Kom, on Saturday, won a historic sixth gold in the Women's World Championships, the mother-of-three doing, without breaking a sweat, what no other woman boxer has done or known before.
The 35-year-old Mary Kom out-classed Ukraine's Hanna Okhota in an unanimous 5-0 verdict in the 48kg category summit bout.
The Olympic bronze medallist came into the all-important bout optimistic of adding to her five world championships titles, and, without an iota of doubt, she walked the talk against Okhota.
The diminutive Manipuri matched Cuban men's legend Felix Savon as the joint most successful pugilist (men and women) in the World Championships' history.
Savon, who also won three Olympic gold medals during his illustrious career, won six gold and one silver in heavyweight in the World Championships between 1986 and 1989.
The feisty Manipuri, a mother of three, won a silver in the inaugural edition in 2001 and then went on to win a gold each in the next five consecutive editions -- 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010 in the 48kg category.
Before this World Championships, the Manipuri was tied with Irish legend Katie Taylor (five gold and a bronze) on the number of medals won. Taylor now plies her trade in the professional circuit.
Overwhelmed, Mary Kom broke down after coming out the ring as she went around to greet the packed stadium and the assembled officials.
Wrapped in the tri-colour, she thanked her fans for their 'unstinted' support.
"I am a little bit emotional. There is no (48kg) weight category in the Olympic Games. Because of your love and support, I feel I will be able to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Four years ago, I was not able to qualify for Rio. I am still suffering from that," she said.
"Thank you for your love and support. I don't have anything to give except for a gold in the country. I know it will be a bit difficult for me to win a gold in Tokyo as I will have to fight in 51kg."
Mary Kom claimed a bronze at the 2012 London Games.
"... Because of their reach, the taller boxers (who will be in 51kg) will have advantage. But I am still dreaming about winning the gold in 2020 Olympics."
A packed crowd waited for Mary Kom to come out in the first final of the day. The Indian straightaway went into the ring and had her small prayer in the blue corner.
It was a watchful start for both the boxers and the Ukrainian, much younger to the Indian, showed attacking intent and kept coming on Mary Kom. The wily Indian soon began to take control. She stepped back and pounced on her opponent to land some clear punches. The first round clearly belonged to Mary Kom and all the judges gave points in her favour.
The second round was the most closely contested one with Mary Kom going for more attack. Okhota was able to land a few strikes on the Indian. This round also went in favour of Mary Kom, with three judges favouring her and two going for Okhota.
The third round was dominated by Mary as she landed some telling blows on Okhota -- a right-handed jab, left-hand combination which rattled the Ukrainian. The crowd went berserk and when the result was announced, the noise reached its crescendo, and Mary Kom bowed to acknowledge.
The other Indian finalist, 21-year-old Sonia lost to Wahner Ornella Gabriele of Germany in the 57kg final in a split 4-1 decision to settle for a silver in her debut World Championships.
Sonia, a rookie boxer who began competing at the senior level only since 2016, won the closely-contested first round but from there went downhill with her German opponent getting the upper hand to win 29-28, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.
The German landed a lot of punches on Sonia in the second and the Indian appeared to be trying to just play out the bout.
"I did my best but it was not enough. My opponent was better on the day. I am happy to have won a silver in my first World Championships," she said.
"I will analyse my weaknesses and work hard for the 2020 Olympics."
Hailing from Bhiwani district in Haryana, Sonia began her career in 2011 when she was 14 and rose through the ranks by competing at the school and sub-junior levels. She first won a senior level medal in 2016.