FIVE-TIME World Champion MC Mary Kom and former Asian Championship silver medalist Sonia Lather kept Indias flag flying high in the Asian Boxing Championships in Vietnam, cruising into the finals on Tuesday.
The Manipuri pugilist, who is making her comeback to the squared ring after more than a year, thumped Japans Tsubasa Komura 5-0 to stay on course for her fifth gold medal in the continental event.
She will take on Hyang Mi Kim of Korea in the title round.
Railway employee Sonia Lather too was imperious against Yodgoroy Mirzaeva of Uzbekistan, beating her in the 57-kg category. She will now face Junhua Jin of China for the gold.
Mary Kom used her all tactical nous in the 48-kg semifinal against Komura, who came with a defensive approach. Komura maintained a safe distance through the opening round, perhaps hoping to put pressure in the next rounds. But Mary still found a way to land her punches and seized the initiative.
She upped the ante in the second round and landed a barrage of punches to pick up crucial points. With the balance now clearly tilted in favour of her, she adopted the cross-armed guard and avoided anything that was thrown at her to be announced as the well-deserved winner. She said after the victory,
"I am happy to be in the finals in my first comeback tournament itself. It was a tough fight and now I have together ready for the finals. I have been fighting for my country all these years and thats what makes it so fulfilling for me.
Sonia Lather too felt confident about the final. She said,
It has been a good tournament so far, and I will do my best in the finals.
Both, Mary and Sonia, felt India was doing well in international tournaments in recent times due to the professional and vision shown by the new dispensation. Mary Kom said,
I would like to personally like to thank BFI President Ajay Singh for his support and encouragement.
India suffered heartbreak in the other semifinals though.
Veteran Sarita Devi, who seemed good for her fifth gold medal in the Asian championship, went down to Chinas Dan Dou in the 64-kg competition.
Shiksha lost to Lin Yu-Ting of Taiwan in the 54-kg while Seema Poonia who stepped into the ring for the first time in the tournament couldnt get a measure of Guzai Ismatova of Uzbekistan in the 81kg+ competition.
Lovelina Borgohain (69-kg) put up a spirited fight before going down to Valentina Khalzova of Kazakasthan while Priyanka Choudhary lost to Yeonji Oh of Korea in the 60-kg category.
All five will bring home a bronze medal each though.