India’s five-time world boxing champion and sporting emblem Mary Kom lost to Ren Cancan of China yesterday, missing a key chance to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic games.
Ren—three times a world champion herself—won a unanimous decision from the judges in their women’s flyweight semi-final at the Asia Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament on home turf in Qian’an.
Women finalists at the event get a place in the Olympic tournament whether they win or lose, so Thursday’s victory secured Ren’s ticket to Rio.
Chinese fans cheered on the local hero with chants of “Jia you!”, which literally translates as “Add oil!” but roughly means: “You can do it!”
Kom struggled to connect, falling briefly to her knees at one point in the fourth round, but will have two more chances to qualify for Rio at the world championships in May and in a competition in Azerbaijan in June.
The 33-year-old, a star in India, was the subject of a 2014 Bollywood biopic and won gold in that year’s Asian Games in South Korea.
She beat the world silver medallist Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines to reach the semifinals of the Qian’an tournament. Ren, 29, won silver at the London 2012 Games, the first time women’s boxing appeared in the Olympics.
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