INDIAN BOXING'S ALL-TIME GREAT MC Mary Kom "went out swinging" from the Olympic arena in what is her last Olympics, though not last competitive match.
The 38-year-old six-time world champion and Bronze-winner from the 2012 London Olympics suffered a heart-breaking 2-3 loss to her Colombian opponent Ingrit Valencia in the Flyweight (51kg) pre-quarterfinal, after giving it her all.
Mary Kom had tears in her eyes and a wide smile on her face when the referee raised Valencia's hand at the end of the bout, exhausted after the intense clash.
The last time the two met, Mary Kom had beaten the Colombian 5:0 in the quarter-finals of the 2019 world championships in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Meanwhile, in her post match interviews the ever competitive Mary Kom let fly at the International Olympic Committee's Boxing Task Force for "poor judging".
The Task Force is conducting the boxing competition at the Tokyo Olympics after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) was suspended by the IOC for alleged mismanagement and financial wrongdoing. "I don't know and understand this decision, what's wrong with the Task Force? What's wrong with the IOC?" she lamented in a telephonic interview to PTI after the loss to Valencia.
"I was also a member of the Task Force. I was even giving them suggestions and supporting them in ensuring a clean competition. But what have they done with me?" she said.
"I was happy inside the ring, when I came out, I was happy because in my mind I knew I had won. When they took me for doping, I was still happy. Only when I saw the social media and my coach (Chhote Lal Yadav repeated it to me), it sunk in that I have lost," she told the newswire.
"I had beaten this girl twice in the past. I couldn't believe that her hand was raised by the referee. I swear, it hadn't struck me that I lost, I was so sure," she added.
The Indian trailed 1-4 in the opening round with four of the five judges scoring it 10-9 in favour of Valencia. In the next two rounds, Mary Kom got three of the five judges to rule in her favour but the overall scoreline was still in favour of Valencia.
The Manipuri needed a 4-1 verdict in the final round to swing the bout for her.
"The worst part is that there is no review or protest. Honestly I am sure the world must have seen, this is too much what they have done," she said.
"I should have got the second round unanimously, how was it 3-2? What happened was totally unpredictable," she reasoned.
The IOC's Boxing Task Force had promised a more transparent judging system after amateur boxing's credibility took a hit during the 2016 Rio Olympics judging fiasco which led to suspension of 36 officials.
Mary Kom is part of the BTF's 10-member athletes ambassadors group.
She represents the Asian bloc in the panel, which also comprises the likes of Ukrainian legend Vasyl Lamachenko (Europe), a two-time Olympic and world gold-medallist who now plies his trade in the professional circuit, and five-time world champion and 2016 Olympic gold-winner Julio Cesar La Cruz (Americas) among others, PTI reports.
"...in a minute or in a second everything gone for an athlete. This is unfortunate what has happened. I am disappointed by the judging," she said.
But the veteran is in no mood to quit despite her Olympic journey coming to an end with the Tokyo edition. At present, boxers above 40 are not eligible to compete at the Games.
"I will take a break after coming back, spend time with family. But I am not quitting. If there is any competition, I will continue and try my luck," she said.