Medallists return to rousing welcome after historic exploits
New Delhi: M C Mary Kom broke into an impromptu jig with her fans as the star boxer along with wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt were accorded a grand welcome after they returned following their historic exploits at the London Olympic Games.
Hundreds of cheering fans thronged the Indira Gandhi International Airport to welcome Mary Kom at the airport. She was accompanied by her husband Onler Kom and her mother Akham Kom. Mary had won a bronze in the flyweight division, becoming the first Indian woman boxer to clinch an Olympic medal.
Similar was the scene last night as hordes of fans gathered at IGI`s terminal 3 to receive the wrestlers along with their family members. The fans, who came with garlands, bouquets and sweets, danced to deafening drum beats while they waited for the wrestlers to come out of the terminal.
Members of the Sports Authority of India were also there to receive the duo.
While Sushil won a silver medal in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling category, Yogeshwar clinched a bronze in the 60 kg category.
All hell broke loose when the fans first sighted the two wrestlers coming out. Police struggled to control the surging fans as they broke barriers to reach out to their heroes.
The fans carried both Sushil and Yogeshwar on their shoulders and welcomed them with a huge roar. Sushil was later ferried away in an open truck, while Yogeshwar left in a car.
Both the wrestlers waved at the crowd, acknowledging the tumultuous welcome. While Sushil did not speak to the waiting media, Yogeshwar said that he was "overwhelmed" by the reception.
Sushil recorded his name in the country`s sports history annals by becoming the first ever sportsperson to win back-to- back individual Olympic medals, having won a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Sports Authority of India and the Sports Ministry have planned a felicitation for all the medal winners and other members of the Indian contingent at the national stadium here on August 16, SAI officials said.
Mary Kom is over the moon after her exploits but bronze is not the colour for the boxer, who feels she could have finished higher on the podium had it not been for the "confusion" that gripped her during the semifinals.
`Magnificent Mary` as she is called by the International Boxing Association, was the lone Indian in fray when women`s boxing made its Olympic debut in the just-concluded Games.
The five-time world champion ensured a piece of history for herself and the country by fetching a bronze in the 51kg division. But for someone who is more used to finishing at the top, bronze was less than satisfactory.
"I am happy to be the first Indian woman boxer to get a bronze medal but I am sad that I could not convert it into gold. I don`t know what happened during my semifinal bout.
"My body was not moving the way I would have liked and I felt as if I could not do anything. I was very much confused," the 29-year-old told PTI in an interview.
Mary Kom lost 6-11 to England`s two-time world champion Nicola Adams in the semifinals and reflecting on the bout, the diminutive Manipuri was at a loss of words to explain what went wrong.
"I never get nervous before bouts but that day I don`t know what was happening to me. I can`t even explain it. I was not attacking as much and may be it was the crowd also which was cheering Nicola. I generally don`t get affected by how the crowd is behaving but probably in the semifinals, it affected me," she recalled.
The Indian conceded that Adams had the bout but was not quite convinced by the scoreline which she felt was narrower than what the record books show.
"I don`t think it was that big a margin even though I admit that Nicola won it. At best, it could have been a difference of 2-3 points but certainly not 6-11. Even though my body was not moving that well, I think I hit her hard and I should not have lost by that margin," she insisted.
"I don`t think she hit me so many clear punches, hers was a touch-and-go game. I had already fought my toughest bout of the competition in the first round itself," she said.