They’ve been waiting for her for over an hour. All ready for a grand welcome.

And when she arrives, they rush forward to catch a glimpse. Waving hands to the crowd, she walks with that patent smile. People waiting for autographs or trying to take pictures on their mobile phones, Felicitations, words of thanks, clapping and cheering..

Mary Kom

Ever since Mary Kom came back from London Olympics, things have changed. A Lot, Mary says. “I’ve been playing for 11 years and there was not much of recognition. But now people know who I am, what I do and they want to have a word with me. It’s finally happening, so feels gr eat.”

Wherever she goes, there is frenzy. Shutterbugs follow her all along and even ignore film stars when she arrives. Reporters want to interview her. She doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. But sometimes, it gets tiring. “It’s hectic but I enjoy and these people supported me when I needed. It’s my time to share the moment with them.”

Mary talks of challenges she faced – taunting boys who said women could not do boxing, people who thought marriage is the end of her career and those who doubted her ability to continue after giving birth to the twins.

She smiles as she talks of her husband, Onler Kom- a former footballer and her biggest strength. Onler has been her friend, philosopher, guide, manager, everything. There is a special bond between the two, a very sweet and cute story.

As Mary talks of her struggles, she says she wanted to prove that “Women can do what men can.” When Onler comes to the dias, announcer tells how Onler has been handling the household duties and Onler instantly says, he too, wanted to show Men can do what Women can. It’s because of this love and support, Mary overcame many of the challenges.

The biggest test for her was to play in Olympics and win a medal. So far, Mary had played in 46 Kg and 48 Kg category. But at London, the first time Boxing was included in Olympics and the lightest category was 51 Kg. She had to gain a lot of weight to be able to qualify for London.

Ask her physio, Nikhil Late, and he’ll tell you how difficult it was for her. “It’s not easy to increase your weight and play in a higher category. You have to maintain the weight and fight with opponents whose best weight is much higher. That shows the magnitude of her success, even though it’s a Bronze.”

The real magnitude of her success is perhaps much more. It’s beyond her achievement in the ring. And it can’t be written or explained.

She has given a new hope to many, especially women and the people of North East. It’s only because of Mary, that the tiny state of Manipur has received recognition around the world. For Women, Mary is already a source of inspiration and her Olympic glory has encouraged many others to fight the challenges they face in their lives.