Mary Kom gave India’s battered boxing team something to celebrate when she won the women’s flyweight gold medal at the Asian Games.
Kom came from behind to beat Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova on a split decision in the 51-kilogram division.
Her win provided India with its first gold medal in the ring at Incheon after her teammate Sarita Devi lost a disputed decision in the lightweight division the previous day.
Devi lodged a protest after the judges ruled that she had lost her semi-final to South Korea’s Park Ji-na on Tuesday. At Wednesday’s medal presentation, Devi broke down in tears and refused to wear the bronze medal she was presented with.
“I was disappointed with the judges’ decision on Sarita,” Kom said. “Unfortunately, it happens sometimes, since I started boxing.
“We were really upset, but next time, we’ll do much better. I don’t think Sarita failed the trial. That motivated me to perform better and I was more challenged. I tried hard to prove who I am.”
Kom, a five-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist, had to dig deep to beat Shekerbekova, who held her own in the opening round but was unable to hold off the Indian after that.
Meanwhile, few football fixtures are painted with as much political intrigue as a clash between North and South Korea, and Thursday’s Asian Games final promises to stoke passions on both sides of the world’s most heavily militarised border.
The last time the two sides met in the Asiad final was in 1978 in Bangkok, where neither team could find the net and gold medals were handed out to both sets of players.
Tensions between North and South are high and the two states are still technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Sports exchanges between the two are becoming more common, though sometimes do more harm than good.