New Delhi: It is said that champions are made and not born. The struggle, effort and the determination to keep trying till you succeed is what makes a champion stand out and none would know this better than champion boxer MC Mary Kom.
The only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the seven world championships, there is no stopping her.
Even though the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is more than 15 months away, Mary Kom is already planning for the biggest event in sporting history.
Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of a shoot with sports brand Puma, Mary Kom said that 2019 held special significance for her as this was the qualification year for the Tokyo Olympics and she must ensure that she plans the road ahead with precision.
"2020 is very close. This is one of the most important year for me as I look to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. We have already figured out the plan ahead. Without a plan or strategy you cannot move forward. The most important thing is to stay injury-free as that will help me give it my all as I prepare for 2020," she said.
Having recently competed in Germany and won all her fights, one would expect her to be happy with the start to the season. But Mary Kom is already looking at areas she needs to improve on just like a true champion athlete.
"I have already tested my body as the fight in Germany was my first in the 51 kg category and that was a great experience. I think I have to improve a bit in certain areas like strength, power and stamina and I noted that and will figure these things out with my trainer," she explained.
At the training trip in Germany, Mary Kom defeated Ukraine`s Daria Sierhieieva, Germany`s Ursula Gottlob and Norway`s Veronica Losvik.
Even though her victories were unanimous 5-0 verdicts, Mary Kom wants to keep working hard and plan for different situations that may challenge her as she dreams of gold in the 2020 Games.
"I have already been planning on ways to tackle opponents in the 51 kg category and I have had a bit of an experience on competing in this category in the past year. I now have some idea of the opponents and that helps me to plan the moves to get better," she said.
Asked about the next tournament she would be competing in, Mary Kom said, "I think the India Open will be the next competition that I will be competing in. Rest I have to see the calendar and only then I can tell you."
Even as pundits keep asking if age is catching up with the superstar boxer, Mary Kom is happy about her fitness level and her association with Puma means she is right up there with the best.
"I am so happy and excited to be associated with a sports brand like Puma. It is No.1 in India and I am enjoying myself."
Coming back to the Olympics, while one hopes that India can come back with a rich haul, Mary Kom doesn`t wish to put a number on how many medals India will win.
"I am not god and I don`t think I should comment on whether justice will be done or not. But in my opinion, every athlete who will be a part of the Olympic will be looking to give it their best and make the country proud. I do not think there is any doubt in that," she explained.
Commenting on the journey on her road to boxing glory, Mary Kom said, "There has been a lot of improvement over the years. Initially, there wasn`t much facility on offer and it wasn`t included in the Games. It was very hard for me. But after the inclusion of women`s boxing in the Olympics, things have changed. We are getting treated equally."