India boxer MC Mary Kom will be vying for a record seventh gold medal at the World Boxing Championships starting October 3 in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Mary is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each of the seven world championships, her last performance culminating into a gold medal finish with a unanimous 5-0 result over Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota in November 2018.

In the tournament, Mary will be up against the likes of Chang Yuan of China, North Korea’s Pang Chol-mi, Lin Yu-ting of Chinese Taipei and Ingrit Valencia from China. Mary will be representing India in the 51-kg bracket, an Olympic weight category, hoping it will help her evaluate opponents better keeping Tokyo 2020 in mind.

“This tournament is very important. My category is an Olympic weight category and that’s why I have to be very focussed,” Mary said. “I feel that the best way to silence the critics is with a medal. I cannot stop them from commenting on me.”

In August, Mary was drafted in India’s squad for the World Championships, without turning up for trials which landed her in hot waters. The decision was challenged by fellow Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen, evoking a strong reaction from Mary who asked the 23-year-old to “prover herself in the ring instead of making irritating comments”. At the twilight of her career, Mary wants to put an end to these noises once and for all with a strong performance in Russia.

“I feel that the best way to silence the critics is with a medal. I cannot stop them from commenting on me,” Mary Kom said. “Every World Championship is important. This one is more important because the qualification is coming. Most of the boxers in the 51-kg category are fighting in this, so I will get to know who is stronger than me and accordingly I can make plans.”

Mary’s six previous golds have come fighting in the 48-kg category, now dropped from the Olympics. Hence, Mary took the decision to switch to the 51-kg despite not altering her preparations much.

“I have been training with girls who are stronger and taller than me. This is not the first time for me in the 51-kg. I have won gold at the 2014 Asian Games and bronze in 2018 in that weight category,” she said. “I cannot say if it is easier now or not. I can say for sure only inside the ring. There are so many strategies that the opponent can apply. If I am immediately able to understand it, then easy. Or else, it is a doubtful whether I will win or not.”