Indian boxer Mary Kom has said the Tokyo Games will be her final appearance at the Olympics but she takes solace from the fact that her bronze medal in 2012 has inspired young girls in the country to take up the sport.
Six-times world champion Kom, 38, has been boxing for 20 years but had to wait for the London Games in 2012 for a shot at an Olympic medal when women were allowed to compete for the first time.
“Tokyo will be my last Olympics, age matters here. I’m 38 now, going on 39,” Kom told the Olympic Channel.
“Four (three) more years is a long time. Pretty sure I won’t be allowed to even if I’m willing to carry on till Paris 2024.
The age limit for boxers is set at 40 but was extended to 41 for the Tokyo Games which were pushed back by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kom, who failed to make the cut for the Rio Games in 2016, won the opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020 after beating a younger challenger in a trial in 2019.
“Olympics is huge. For any sportsperson, participating and winning a medal at the Games is a dream, it changes lives,” she added.
“Becoming an Olympian and winning the bronze changed my life too. It also inspired many women to take up sport, especially boxing.
“I feel proud. I want more girls to come out and fight. I hope there are no restrictions on them to come out and fight for themselves and their country.”