Women's World Boxing: Tough road awaits Sarita, Manisha
A tough road awaits veteran L Sarita Devi and rookie Manisha Moun as they open India's campaign at the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships, in New Delhi, on Friday.
The 36-year-old Sarita, who got a first round bye in 60kg category, faces Diana Sandra Brugger of Swizerland in the second round.
Brugger had defeated Huswatun Hasanah of Indonesia in the first round as the 10th edition of the championships began at the K D Jhadav Stadium, in New Delhi, on Thursday.
Sarita, who won a gold in the 2006 edition held here, has come into the tournament after winning a bronze each in the India Open and Silesian Women's Boxing championship in Gliwice, Poland this year. Her opponent Brugger, on the other hand, does not have a formidable reputation.
"After 12 years I am getting the opportunity to win another gold and I am fully prepared for the challenge. My opponent from Switzerland is a good fighter and I have seen the videos of her previous bouts. I will fight to win," Sarita said.
But, it will not be an easy outing for the Manipuri as her opponent has been an experienced campaigner having taken part in World Championships since 2008.
Sarita, seeded fourth in the tournament, would be searching for her second gold at home but to do that she will have to beat the likes of defending world champion Yang Wenlu of China and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Anastasia Beliakova of Russia. They have been clubbed with Sarita in the lower half of the draw.
On the other hand, the 20-year old Manisha (54kg) faces 2016 World Championships bronze medallist Christina Cruz of the United States in her first round bout.
Cruz is also a bronze medallist at the 2012 World Championships but Manisha was not perturbed by her opponent's reputation.
"I am ready for the bout, we have prepared very well and I am excited to be competing in my first World Championships," Manisha told reporters before team practice.
Manisha won a silver in the Senior Nationals and a gold in the India Open this year. She also won a silver in the Silesian Women's Boxing championship in Poland where she defeated reigning world champion Dina Zholaman of Kazakhstan.
"I am not thinking about my opponent. In fact, I know just a few names of boxers in my weight category. When I beat the world champion in Poland, I did not know that she is the reining world champion. I came to know only later," she said.
Asked if she is feeling the pressure ahead of her World Championships debut, "No, there is no pressure. Rather, I feel happy that my first major tournament is a World Championship and that also in front of home crowd.
"Everyday I speak to seniors like Mary Kom and Sarita Devi and they tell me how to prepare myself before bouts. They give useful tips."
India's 69kg contestant Lovlina Borgohain also faces a tough opponent in her first bout on November 18.
Borgahain, who got a first round bye, will either face 2014 World Championships gold medallist Atheyna Bylon of Panama or Yulia Stoiko of Ukraine.
"The Panama boxer is a world champion and so it will be a tough bout but I have also prepared well. My weight category will also be in the 2020 Olympics and so there are many top contenders. It will not be an easy tournament for me but I will give my best," said the 21-year-old Assamese.
Borgohain has come into the World Championships after winning a gold in the India Open and a silver in the Ulaanbatar Cup this year.