India's most successful woman boxer M C Mary Kom was spewing fire even though it was celebration time for her after clinching her maiden gold medal since jumping a division, in the Asian Championships in Mongolia.
"In the past one year, a lot of comments have been made about me. Some said I am past my prime, that I am denying other more deserving boxers (notably multiple-time Asian champion L Sarita Devi) their chance but I am glad that I have been able to prove myself," Mary Kom told PTI after coming back to the country.
This was the five-time world champion's first gold since leaving pin-weight (46kg) for 51kg, which is an Olympic category for the upcoming London Games.
Elated she might be, but the mother of two was a touch upset as well because of the criticism she faced after managing just a bronze in the 2010 Asian Games, her maiden appearance in the new division.
"I had a point to prove to my critics. Lot of people said that I will not have the strength to do well, it would be difficult for me to adjust. No doubt, it was but it wasn't impossible and I just proved that," Mary Kom, who extracted revenge on her Asian Games nemesis, Ren Cancan of China, said.
The 29-year-old, who has won Asian Championships gold thrice before in the pin-weight division, said she went into the event a smarter boxer after working hard on her defence in the past one year.
"I played very smart and clever. I had worked hard on my defence, besides I think my movement has also improved. And for all those who were doubting my credential since shifting my category, I can say that I am very comfortable in this division," she asserted.
"I have sorted out my weaknesses," she declared.
Asked what was the difference in fighting Cancan this time, Mary Kom said, "I think she was a bit intimidated of me. My technique was better and I guess, I managed to out-think her."
Mary Kom had a tough time after shifting her weight category as L Sarita Devi, who incidentally also won a gold in Mongolia competing in the 60kg division, had staked her claim to the 51kg division since she was already competing in it prior to the Guangzhou Games.
Things became ugly when Sarita claimed Mary Kom had been unfairly selected and even threatened to return her Arjuna award.
"That was a phase which left me very upset. She has also jumped a division now but no one questioned her. But I was asked questions all the time about my decision, that hurt a lot," she said.
"But that is past now and now I can say, this new division is no big deal for me," she said.
Next up is the World Championships in May, which will double up as an Olympic qualifying event, and Mary Kom said she is more confident than ever as she begins the countdown to the mega-event which she has dominated.
"I am very confident especially after this gold medal. I will go there in a very positive frame of mind and would definitely get an Olympic berth and a medal," she signed off.