MC Mary Kom, Sarita Devi advance to semifinals in Strandja Memorial

The seasoned duo was assured of their third successive international medals. 

MC Mary Kom, Sarita Devi advance to semifinals in Strandja Memorial
File photo of MC Mary Kom (PTI)

Sofia: The seasoned duo of MC Mary Kom (48kg) and L Sarita Devi (60kg) was assured of their third successive international medals after they entered the semifinals of the 69th Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament for men and women, here on Thursday.

The 35-year-old Mary Kom, who came here on the back of gold medals at the Asian Championships and the India Open, defeated old nemesis Steluta Duta of Romania in her quarterfinal contest.

Sarita, a bronze and silver winner at the Asian Championships and India Open respectively, got the better of China's Qi Yawen in her last-eight stage bout.

Mary Kom relied on her sharp reflexes to outwit Steluta, who is a three-time world championships silver-medallist and a four-time gold medal winner at the European Championships.

Interestingly, all of Steluta’s world championship silver medals are courtesy losses to Mary Kom in the finals (2006, 2008 and 2010).

Clashing after a considerable gap, the two boxers were locked in a fierce exchange of blows, but Mary Kom managed to edge past by keeping her distance and not allowing the Romanian a clear shot for most of the bout.

The competitiveness, however, did not come in the way of mutual respect as the two embraced each other warmly at the end of the contest.

Sarita, on the other hand, hardly broke a sweat to sail past her overtly defensive rival, who spent most of her time trying to either back-paddle or take evasive action.

In the men’s competition, Dheeraj Rangi (64kg) bowed out of the competition after losing his opening bout to Louis Colin Richarno.

India are now assured of six medals in the tournament, all courtesy women boxers — Seema Punia (+81kg), Saweety Boora (75kg), Mena Kumari Devi (54kg) and Bhagyabati Kachari (81kg) being the others.

While Saweety and Meena won their quarterfinal contests, Seema and Bhagyabati got byes.

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