New Delhi: On the heels of a major controversy over her automatic selection for Olympic qualifiers that has since been rolled back, veteran boxer Mary Kom has claimed only she can win a medal for India at major world events and young Indian boxers are not ready for the big stage yet.
The 35-year-old, who last month had bagged her eighth medal, a bronze, at the World Boxing Championships, asserted that no one else except her was currently capable of winning the gold for India. This is why, she said, she had switched her weight category to 51kg ahead of the Olympics as it is applicable for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Till last year's World Championships and Commonwealth Games, Mary Kom was competing in the 45-48kg category. "I keep changing the weight because if I don't stay in the Olympic category, who will win the gold there? This is the truth. The youngsters are not ready yet. They will take a lot of time, there is nobody as unique as I am," Mary Kom told News18.com on Tuesday on the sidelines of Sports Carnival that was organised under the aegis of Fit India Movement.
Although Mary Kom did not name anyone, her statement comes after the selection row with Nikhat Zareen, who competes in the same weight category as her. Zareen had cried foul at the Boxing Federation of India recently, alleging that it bent its criteria and decided to send the six-time world champion for the Olympic qualifiers without a trial.
Zareen, a junior world champion who was also overlooked for the recently concluded world championships, had also written to union sports minister Kiren Rijiju to give her a fair chance in a trial bout.
Mary Kom, a mother of four, said young boxers develop an ego and attitude as soon as they win a small international medal and that is something which will not take them far.
"The young boxers win a small international event that I don't even want to participate in, and they feel like they are big stars. I have eight medals in World Championships and in the Games too, I have all the medals except Olympic gold. That is why I am still going on," Mary Kom added, again without taking any names.
She further said that till these younger boxers "don't let go of their ego, they won't achieve". She also asked her fans to keep her in their prayers and said she is looking at the Olympic qualifiers first and only once she qualifies for the 2020 Tokyo Games, will she think about the medal.
"I hope to have everyone's support and please pray for me because that helps. I will try my best to qualify for the Olympics first and then think about the medal."