Indian boxing star M C Mary Kom says her decision to skip the Asian Championships is part of a larger plan to enhance her chances of Olympic qualification at a time when the competition in her weight category has become significantly "difficult".
Mary Kom, who claimed her sixth world title last year in Delhi, will be looking to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the World Championships in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The Asian Championship is scheduled to be held next month in Thailand.
"This year is very important for me. Qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics is my main aim. Without competing in any competition I cannot qualify for the Olympics. It would be difficult. I have to know all the opponents in my category (51kg) and judge how strong they are compared to me," Mary Kom, who has signed up with the sports goods manufacturing giant 'PUMA', told PTI.
"I have to first compete in the India Open and then slowly choose my tournaments in the 51kg category. I am looking to qualify for the Olympics at the Worlds and that is why I have decided to skip the Asian Championships to prepare myself best for the Worlds.
"Without proper planning, I cannot qualify for the Olympics. India Open is also very important for me. So I have decided to choose some important tournaments to qualify for the Olympics," added the 2012 London Olympics bronze-medalist.
The 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships will be held from September 7 to 21.
Mary Kom would be competing in the 51kg category after her preferred 48kg divisions did not make the Olympic program. The Manipuri champion had competed in the 51kg category in Germany during a training stint earlier this month and came back undefeated.
"I have already been competing in the 51kg category in the last one year. I now know the areas where I will have to work upon but fitness wise there are no issues. I just have to work upon my strength, power and stamina," she said.
Asked about her plans after she decides to hang her gloves, the 36-year-old mother of three said she wants to give back to the sport which made her a household name.
"That is something which was always in my plans. But right now I am concentrating on my upcoming competitions. I have my own academy in Manipur. I have that passion for full-time coaching after retirement," she said.
"If the Boxing Federation of India or the government needs my services in improving the standards of Indian women's boxing, I am always there."