London: The spotlight will be on the diminutive M C Mary Kom as she attempts to create history by becoming the first Indian to reach the final of the boxing event of Olympic Games when she takes on Nicola Adams of Great Britain in what promises to be a high-voltage contest, on Wednesday.
The five-time world champion Mary has already assured at least a bronze medal for India, which means that the country has recorded its best-ever medal haul in the mega event.
India has already won one silver, two bronze and assured of a bronze, which is better than the one gold and two bronze medals they won in the Beijing Games four years ago.
The only other Indian pugilist who has kept himself in the medal hunt is Devendro Singh who will clash with Paddy Barnes of Ireland in the men’s fly weight (49 kg) category at the ExCel Arena on Wednesday.
Interestingly, both Mary and Devendro hail from Manipur and know each other well and it would be a huge fillip to the sport in the strife-torn state if they progress further in the event.
Women’s boxing has been introduced for the first time in the Olympics and Mary, who has always taken part in the 48 kg category where she has excelled, had to increase her body weight to be eligible to take part in the 51 kg category in the Olympic Games.
As she herself disclosed, she has trained with taller and stronger boys in the build up to the Olympics to be able to counter her opponents in the event, marred by several controversies and dubious judgements.
The Indian pugilists have often being in the receiving end of the debatable judgements and some of their appeals have been rejected by the authorities.
Vikas Krishan had the misfortune of seeing his result being overturned in favour of his American opponent Errol Spence after he was given four penalties in a controversial bout. Krishan won the bout but later the American was adjudged the victor much to the dismay of the Indian contingent.
There were many other bouts where the Indians felt that the scoring did not go in their favour and even Vijender Singh, the bronze medallist in the Beijing Games, was unlucky in his quarter-final contest against Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan which he lost 17-13.
The Indians have got tremendous support from the crowd but it will be clearly divided when she takes the British boxer who will have support from the home crowd.
Mary has had no major threat in her passage to the semi-final so far. She beat Karolina Michalczuk of Poland in the pre-quarter final with a 19-14 verdict and then prevailed of Maroua Rahali of Tunisia 16-5 in the quarter finals to assure herself a bronze medal.
But her biggest challenge will come tomorrow against the British boxer and it remains to be seen whether she can overcome the obstacle and go on to win a historic gold medal for the country.