The path to the Summer Games have been full of challenges and adaptability will be key, feels the boxing legend. 

Boxing legend MC Mary Kom believes that the Tokyo Olympics will be a Games of many firsts and the athletes will have to bank on their mental toughness to produce top performances.

For the first time in its history, the Olympic Games were rescheduled from last year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. All athletes participating in the Games have been urged to get vaccinated before they reach Tokyo.

Japan is in a state of emergency to fight the virus. No overseas fans will be allowed to attend the Summer Games either.

Events leading up to the Games have been postponed, cancelled or held under stringent bio bubbles with athletes tested and quarantined before they are allowed to participate.

“These are unprecedented times and one must be adaptive in nature, keeping the current circumstances in mind,” Mary Kom told the Khaleej Times.

“We must be patient and keep ourselves fit and match-ready. All the athletes have seen the consequences of not being careful. We have been training in bio-bubbles and it has made us mentally strong.

“During the Olympics, our goal is to give our best. It will be an Olympics with a lot of firsts and we have to adapt.”

With the Indian boxers starved of competition ahead of Tokyo 2020, the Asian Boxing Championships 2021 in Dubai has been a blessing for India’s Olympics-bound squad.

India sent a 19-member team, including seven Tokyo-bound boxers, to the Asian Boxing Championships where 150 boxers from 17 countries are participating.

“A good performance here is a massive boost as it’s the last tournament before the Olympics,” the 38-year-old Mary Kom pointed out.

“More than that, it’s crucial to check my progress as well as note the areas where work is needed.

“Some of the best boxers from Asia who will be at the Olympics are here, so we are up against the best. Due to COVID, competitions have been less and we need to make the most of our opportunities.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges for Mary Kom in her preparations, the Indian great was happy with recent developments.

“Being confined to our homes and not being able to spar (was tough), but we had to remain fit physically and mentally,” Mary Kom said. “Training in the past few months wasn’t easy.

“But since I joined the national camp in Pune, I am in a much better space. I am glad I could take care of sparring, my stamina and fitness before coming to Dubai. I am really looking forward to the much-needed match practice here.”

Despite a depleted field at the Asian meet, Mary Kom has been in fine touch and has made it to the final of the women’s 51kg category. The six-time world champion will face Kazakhstan’s two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay in the final on Sunday.