London: Indian boxers M.C. Mary Kom and Vijender Singh will be in action Monday with a win in their respective quarterfinal bouts assuring them of at least a bronze medal.
Mary Kom Sunday overcame a tough battle against Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk in the opening round of the women’s boxing, which is making its Olympic debut in London. The Indian faces Maroua Rahali of Tunisia in the 51 kg class later in the day.
Vijender will repeat his bronze medal show from Beijing if he gets the better of Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev in the 75 kg quarterfinals. Atoev is a former world champion.
Leaving aside Mary Kom’s winning start, Sunday was a forgettable day for India. The hockey team suffered its fourth straight defeat and is set for its worst finish at the Olympics.
India lost 1-4 to South Korea in their penultimate group B match at the Riverbank Arena.
At the Royal Artillery Barracks, from where India has got two medals, trap shooter Manavjit Sandhu finished a poor 25th among 34 competitors on the first day of men’s qualification and risks missing the final round.
Mary Kom, a five-time World Champion, put on a valiant display as she downed a bigger opponent in Karolina to enter the last eight stage.
The boxer, known as Magnificent Mary, had to fight hard to progress to the next stage, winning 19-14 at the ExCel Arena.
The first round was a tight affair as both the boxers came out attacking. There was nothing to separate the two as the round ended 3-3.
In the second round, the Indian boxer came out with new vigour and attacked viciously. The Polish boxer too didn’t flinch as she answered Mary Kom’s punches with some of her own.
Many thought the round might go to the Pole, who towards the end sent the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist reeling. Karolina landed a hard right hook which took the wind out of the Indian. But the judges still awarded the round in the Indian’s favour 5-4.
Mary Kom showed her class in the third. She attacked with a flurry of combinations which had the Pole ducking and evading. Both of them traded punches for a while but it was clear that the diminutive Indian was well ahead. With quick feet and quick hands, Mary Kom surged ahead into the lead, taking the round 7-3.
With both boxers tiring in the fourth round, the Indian tried to stay away from the reach of her opponent, who had to reduce a five-point deficit.
Karolina fought hard for a comeback but the Indian was too good for her. Time running-out, the Pole caught Mary Kom a couple of times but could only draw the final round 4-4.
In shooting, Sandhu, a former world champion, shot a total of 70 (24, 24, 22) out of 75 in the first three rounds on the first day of the qualification.
The last two rounds, of 50 shots, are scheduled for Monday. Even if the 35-year-old manages a perfect two round of 25 he is unlikely to finish among the top six who would make it to the medal round.