'Magnificent Mary' claims historic fifth gold at Asian Championships
Ho Chi Minh City: Indian boxing stalwart MC Mary Kom (48kg) clinched an unprecedented fifth gold medal, but Sonia Lather (57kg) settled for silver at the Asian Championships, here on Wednesday.
Up against North Korea's Kim Hyang Mi, the five-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Mary Kom prevailed in a unanimous 5-0 verdict to add another accolade to her already crowded cabinet.
However, world championship silver-medallist, Sonia, had to be content with runners-up finish for the second time at this event after she went down in a split verdict to China's Yin Junhua in the final.
India thus signed off with gold, silver and five bronze medals at the continental showpiece.
This was Mary Kom's first international gold medal since the 2014 Asian Games and her first medal in over a year.
With Wednesday's gold, she kept her excellent record at this event intact, having made the final in all of her six appearances with only one ending in silver. Mary Kom's previous gold medals at this meet had come in 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2012.
"I am thrilled the way this Championship has panned out. I would like to dedicate this victory to all those who have supported me even though the world had written me off. I would like to thank my coaching staff who worked hard with me over the last few months," Mary Kom said after the triumph.
In Hyang Mi, the 35-year-old Manipuri found her most aggressive opponent so far in the tournament, but she was up to the task. Unlike her previous bouts, in which the opening three minutes were invariably spent measuring up the rival, both the boxers were lunging at each other within seconds of the bell going off.
Matched quite evenly with speed and precision, Mary Kom scored for her ringcraft, which included some excellent footwork to outpace Hyang Mi at crucial junctures.
There was hardly any power-hitting on display, but the contest was made engaging by the boxers' fast-paced exchange of punches.
The North Korean was relentless with her left hooks, but the Manipuri did not allow herself to be rattled and scored on a counter-attack with her combination blows.