London, Aug 5: India's Mary Kom made a winning Olympic debut as she won her boxing bout to move into the quarter-finals of the women's 51kg category here at the London Olympics 2012 on Sunday.
The five-time world champion defeated Poland's Karolina Michalczuk 19-14 in the round of 16 at the ExCeL South Arena 2. In the bout which had four rounds, barring the first round which was 3-3, rest all Mary dominated. Her points were 3, 5, 7 and 4 against Karolina's 3, 4, 3 and 4.
"It was a good way to start, the whole country was praying for this win. There were a lot of people of all religion who were praying for me and I am happy that I have crossed the first hurdle," Mary said.
"It was tough as it was the first bout of the Olympics. It was the first Olympics for me and it is a very good experience," she added as the crowd kept cheering her with chants of 'Mary Kom, Mary Kom' and 'India, India'.
After defeating her 32-year-old Polish opponent, Mary will now face Tunisia's Maroua Rahali, who got a first-round bye.
She is now one win from a medal. Both losing semi-finalists will be awarded bronze medals.
The 29-year-old from Manipur is the lone Indian woman qualified for boxing. Mary qualified through the World Championships in May this year. She has a great chance of joining Karnam Malleswari and Saina Nehwal as the only Indian women to have won Olympic medals.
It is a good beginning for the Indian, also known as "Magnificent Mary." She is a big medal hope for the country. Women's boxing is making its Games debut in London.
Before the Games, she had said, "The critics and some of my well wishers still want me to prove myself after 12 years in this sport and after winning five World Championships. I have won my World Championships in 46 and 48kg. These weight categories are not in Asian or Olympic Games. Boxing was introduced in Asian Games only in 2010 and there I got a bronze in 51kg."
"Before that for over a decade I was fighting in lower weight categories. Here also I am in 51kg, I have no complaints. My critics may not know but I know what I have to do," Mary added.