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Rousing return for Magnificent Mary

New Delhi: The government must put in place a system that will spot and train sports talent at the grassroots so that India can perform to its potential best at international competitions like the Olympics, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Shri V Kishore Chandra Deo, said on Tuesday.

“The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is very much into accomplishing this task. Steps in this direction are already on, and we are determined to chalk out more measures to reap in benefits for the country’s tribal communities and the sports people among them,” he told a function here organised to felicitate boxer Mary Kom on her winning a medal at the just-concluded Olympics. The ministry rewarded the Manipuri sportswoman Rs 10 lakh, within hours of her touchdown in the national capital from London.

Kom’s latest professional achievement – the 29-year-old won the bronze in the 51-kg flyweight category at the Games – exemplifies the victory of individual efforts rather than that of an institutional set-up, the minister noted.

Kom, in her brief speech after receiving the purse from the minister, expressed joy that the whole nation stood behind her as she battled it out at London. “My target was a gold medal; I’ll now try for that that at Rio (de Janeiro, which is hosting the 2016 Olympics),” she said, amid cheers from the gathering. “For that, I again look forward to your support.”

Kom later joined a group of a dozen Manipuri tribal artistes who danced towards the culmination of the function.

Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Shri Mahadeo Singh Khandela, recalled how Kom overcame several hurdles before scripting her achievements. “She has left a wonderful example of how one can excel in one’s chosen field even while not missing out on the personal and family fronts,” he added.

Kom had to take a two-year sabbatical in the mid-2000s before coming back with vigour and winning a silver medal at the 2008 Asian Women’s Boxing Championship.

Earlier in the day, Kom landed at Delhi airport to rousing cheers from fans. She spoke briefly, saying, “I am very 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 boxer said.

As for celebrating the historic triumph in London, Kom said once the felicitations and media interactions end, she will hold a quiet thanksgiving prayer in church. (Agencies)

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