India might not have put up a stellar show on Sunday but ace boxer Mary Kom and star table tennis player Manika Batra ensured that fans at least have something to celebrate in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
While Mary Kom (51kg) stormed into the Round of 16 of women''s flyweight (48-51 kg) category event, paddler Manika Batra staged a stunning comeback to progress in Round 3 of the women''s singles event.
Born in a poor family of farmers in the village of Kangathei in Manipur, Mary Kom was the eldest of three siblings. In the initial days at school, Mary dabbled in athletics, football, and volleyball.
Boxing, though, came into her life only after seeing fellow Manipuri Dingko Singh return with a gold medal from the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.
Despite her obvious natural talent, there were challenges to overcome. At that time, boxing was a male-dominated sport, and finding quality competition among girls was tough. Mary, though, came up with her own solution - spar against the boys.
There were issues at the home front as well. Mary Kom''s father Mangte Tonpa Kom, though an aspiring wrestler in his younger days, was strictly against Mary''s choice of boxing because he felt injuries to her face may severely impede her marriage prospects.
Mary, though, continued following her passion behind her father''s back. The secret, however, came out once her father saw her photo in a newspaper after she won a state championship. Tonpa, eventually, warmed up to his daughter''s decision in 2003.
She became the first Indian Female Boxer to qualify and win a medal at London Olympics in 2012. No wonder she became the first AIBA Legend and continues to inspire every Indian, both on and off the field.
Till now Rs 19,58,226 has been spent on Mary Kom''s training through the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and Annual Calendar of Training and Competitions (ACTC).
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) provided Mary Kom with all the facilities, like procurement of Consumable Equipment (Interlocking Gym Mats) and inclusion of personal sparring partner at National Camp at ASI, Pune.
Manika Batra, the Gold Medal winner in Women''s Singles and the Women''s Team event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, grew up in Delhi and began playing table tennis at the age of four. Her elder sister and brother, who played Table Tennis themselves, had a huge influence on Manika during her early playing years.
Manika Batra caught the eye with three golds at the 2016 South Asian Games, ahead of making her Olympic debut at Rio 2016.
She then bagged four medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Her women''s singles gold at the Commonwealth Games 2018 made Manika the first Indian woman table tennis player to win an individual gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Till now Rs 98,66,597 has been spent on Manika Batra''s training through the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and Annual Calendar of Training and Competitions (ACTC).
She was also provided with a supported coach, strength and conditioning coach, and sparring partner under TOPS to assist her in multiple international competitions. (ANI)