Sport is expected to stop much of India at 6 pm today and it's not cricket. MC Mary Kom, a diminutive Indian woman boxer carries on her shoulders the considerable weight of a vast nation's expectations.
Read: Meet Nicola Adams, the fighter between Mary Kom and the Olympic final
At the London Olympics, Mary Kom is assured of at least a bronze since she is in the semi-finals, where she meets World number 2 Nicola Adams, who also has the home advantage being British. But the focused 29-year-old mother of twins has been quoted as saying that she will be fighting for Gold today.
And she is all set for the match. Minutes before her semi-final bout, Mary Kom tweeted: "Ready for my match. Thanks all for your wishes. Hope to make my country proud. Jai Hind!"
Nicola Adams, who beat Mary Kom just three months ago in the world championships, however, is once again looking to use her height and reach advantage against the 5 feet 2 inches tall Manipuri. Mary Kom is also new to the 51 kg category - she used to fight in the 48 kg category earlier.
But then they don't call her Magnificent Mary for nothing; fighting against odds is not a new experience. From working in the fields to help her parents run the family to winning medals for the country, Mary is a symbol of hard work, determination and talent. In the build up to the Olympics, she trained with taller and stronger boys to be able to counter her opponents in the event, marred by several controversies and dubious judgments.
In her two bouts in the Olympics so far, she has looked unbeatable, winning both convincingly to reach the semis. She beat Karolina Michalczuk, a much taller and bigger boxer from Poland, to enter the quarterfinals. And later she won her quarter-final bout against Maroua Rahali of Tunisia by 15-6 margin.
Adams expects a tough fight from the gritty Indian. "It's going to be a tough match but I'm going to have the height and reach advantage and will try to use all my attributes," she said.
Poonam Beniwal, who is a coach with NIS Patiala, says, "In this kind of competition experience counts for a lot, so Mary will use that to her advantage."
Mary's husband Onler Kom, said, "I am proud of her achievements. We will be going back with a medal. I wish her all the best."
A mother of two, Mary Kom started her career as an athlete but later switched to boxing following the success of fellow Manipuri boxer Dingko Singh. She started her boxing career in 2000 after which there was no stopping her.
In 2001, she lost in the final and had to settle for a silver medal. In 2002, she started her domination at the AIBA World Championships where she won her first gold. She continued to dominate women's boxing till 2006 after which she took a 2-year sabbatical due to the birth of her twins. She returned with a bang in 2008 winning her 4th successive World Championship.
Her feat earned her the title of 'Magnificent Mary' from the AIBA. In 2010, she had the honour of bearing the Queen's Baton in the opening ceremony run at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the stadium. She has also been awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2004, Padma Shri Award in 2006 and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2009 for her achievements in Boxing.
In 2010, she was voted India's Sportswoman of the Year. Mary Kom also became the International Boxing Association's Ambassador for Women's Boxing in 2009.