Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom's (51kg) pursuit of a second Olympic medal ended in the pre-quarterfinals of the Tokyo 2020 Games as she went down to 2016 edition's bronze-medallist Ingrit Valencia in a fiercely-fought bout on Thursday.
The 38-year-old, who is a multiple-time Asian champion and a bronze-winner from the 2012 London Olympics, lost 2-3 to the Colombian, in what could be her final Olympic bout.
Mary Kom had a wide smile on her face when the referee raised Valencia's hand at the end of the bout, and she bowed to each corner before existing the ring.
Valencia rushed in when the first bell rang, and both boxers were in attacking mode right from the start. Valencia grabbed the upper-hand when she clinched the opening round 4-1.
Mary Kom fought back to claim the second and the third round by 2-3 margins but the slender edge that Valencia took in the opening round tilted the final scores in her favour.
After the bout, Mary Kom slammed the International Olympic Committee's Boxing Task Force for "poor judging".
"I don't know and understand this decision, what's wrong with the Task Force? What's wrong with the IOC?" she said.
"I was happy inside the ring, when I came out, I was happy because in my mind I knew I had won. When they took me for doping, I was still happy. Only when I saw the social media and my coach (Chhote Lal Yadav repeated it to me), it sunk in that I have lost.
"The worst part is that there is no review or protest. Honestly I am sure the world must have seen, this is too much what they have done," she said.
The Indian landed her right hooks to perfection in both the second and the third round.
Mary Kom had earlier beaten Valencia in the 2019 world championship quarterfinals and it was the Colombian's first career win over the Indian. Like Mary Kom, the 32-year-old Valencia is a trailblazer for her country. She is the first female boxer to have represented Colombia at the Olympic Games, as well as the nation's first female boxer to win an Olympic medal.
Mary Kom, India's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, has already cemented her claim as one of Indian sport's all time greats. She was one of the pioneers of women's boxing in India - winning a silver at the very first World Championships for women in 2001. Over two decade-long career, she's won medals at every level - including a record six gold medals at the World Championships.
Despite the loss, Mary Kom said she has no desire to call it quits just yet.
"I can still fight, I am still strong enough. If you have will power (you can fight), of course training is also important along with discipline. I have been fighting for 20 years," she said.
"Manipuri people have fighting spirit both men and women. But women have extra.
"When I look at my memories, it's been incredible. It's very easy to say I'm a one, two-time world champion, but in reality, doing that is not easy. You have to have a unique personality."
Following her bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, Mary Kom appeared to suffer a dip in form. She went eight years without a medal at the World Championships and failed even to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. However, over the past three years, she has found a second wind, winning a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, another gold medal at the 2018 World Championships and a bronze at the same event in 2019. In April this year, she won a silver at the Asian Championships. She's managed her accomplishments even while balancing her role as the mother of four children as well as her responsibilities as a member of parliament.