"I am really scared", said an overwhelmed M C Mary Kom as she took centrestage in her maiden felicitation function after becoming the first Indian woman boxer to clinch an Olympic medal.
The 29-year-old, who won the flyweight 51kg bronze medal at the just-concluded London Games, giggled all through, joined folk dancers on the stage to shake a leg and was a picture of humility as fans lined up to garland her in a jam-packed felicitation function organised by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs on Tuesday.
The Manipuri boxer received a cash award of Rs 10 lakh from the Ministry, barely hours after touching down in the country from London in an early morning flight after her historic feat.
"I am really scared," were her first words when she was invited to share her experiences -- a line that one would hardly get to hear when she is preparing for bouts.
"I thank God and the Ministry. I don't have a speech with me, so I don't know what to say. But everyone knows my experiences in life," said the mother-of-twins as her husband, Onler, and mom, Mangte Akham Kom, looked on with smiles on their faces.
"I am extremely happy that the whole country is supporting me. I hope to go for gold in the next Olympics," said the diminutive boxer, getting a round of applause from the packed hall for that statement.
After her impromptu speech, she stood calmly at the dais as fans lined up to garland her, shake hands with her, hug her and get pictures with her.
There was no trace of jet-lag on her face as she went about the programme with a wide smile.
She got off the dais and sat in the audience when a traditional dance of her Kom tribe was presented by the Ministry in her honour.
The enthusiastic dancers brought her back to the stage, wrapped a traditional 'Phanek' around her waist and asked her to join them in the performance.
She happily obliged much to the delight of the audience. Her delicate moves fetched her another round of applause before she signed off with folded hands to acknowledge the adulation.