QINHUANGDAO, China – Women’s boxing legend MC Mary Kom spoke of her immense relief after she was handed an Olympic lifeline on Friday — without even throwing a punch.
The five-time world champion was reduced to a bundle of nerves at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in China after she failed to gain an automatic Olympic spot after losing to Nicola Adams in the quarter-finals.
But the world number-two flyweight Adams, from England, dismissed Russian Elena Savelyeva in the semi-finals 11-6, clearing the path to London for the celebrated Kom.
“It was emotional sat there watching as I had no medal after losing to Nicola in the quarter-finals. I was up and down,” said “Magnificent Mary”, who who watched Adams — who has also qualified for the 2012 Games — from the stands with the rest of the nervous Indian boxing squad.
“Nicola has helped me get a chance to go to the Olympics so I will try my very best. It’s a dream to go to the Games as they are very special to me and India,” said the 29-year-old Kom.
“I have fought in the World Championships many times but it’s important to go to the Olympics — it’s the highlight of my career,” said the diminutive Kom, who has been forced to move up a division in a bid to contest the lightest Olympic category, 51 kilos.
China’s world number two flyweight Ren Cancan meets Adams in Saturday’s final after beating Poland’s Korolina Michalczuk 27-18.
Irish punching machine Katie Taylor meanwhile cruised through to her fourth consecutive World Championships final.
The 25-year-old lightweight star and reigning champion picked apart Tajikistan’s Mavzuna Chorieva 16-6 to place one glove on the gold medal she has owned since 2006.
A successful fight tomorrow against Russian Sofya Ochigava — who defeated England’s Natasha Jonas in the other semi-final — will top off a glorious week for Taylor after she qualified for the London Olympics.
“I didn’t intend on going into the semi-final to mix it up with Mavzuna too much. I kept her at length with my jabs,” said Taylor, who is coached by her father Peter.
He added: “We said we had only loaned the title back to the organisers for the 10 days of the tournament and we plan to collect it again to take home after the final.”
Jonas, who picked up a bronze medal as well as an Olympic berth in the smoggy Chinese coastal city, was unbowed despite going down 18-10 to Ochigava.
“If you said at the start of the tournament that I would come here and qualify for London and win a World Championship medal, I would have taken that any day,” she said.
“I know I am one of the best in the world and finally I have my chance to prove it. I am one of the lucky ones going to London 2012,” said the 24-year-old.
Another Englishwoman, the middleweight fighter Savannah Marshall, handed herself the ideal birthday present after defeating Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova 18-10.
Marshall will spend her 21st birthday battling for a World Championship gold medal against Azerbaijan’s Elena Vystropova, who narrowly beat Sweden’s Anna Laurell.