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Lovlina chases Olympics final berth vs World champ

Source: PTI
August 03, 2021 16:50 IST
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India's Lovlina Borgohain trades punches with Taiwan's Chen Nien-Chin during her Olympics women's welterweight boxing quarter-final

IMAGE: India's Lovlina Borgohain trades punches with Taiwan's Chen Nien-Chin during her Olympics women's welterweight boxing quarter-final, at Kokugikan Arena, in Tokyo. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

A medal already secured, Lovlina Borgohain will be in pursuit of history when she takes on reigning World champion Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey in the Olympics boxing 67 kg semi-finals, in Tokyo, on Wednesday, aiming to become the first ever Indian boxer to advance to the Games final.

 

The 23-year-old from Assam, who started her career as a Muay Thai practitioner, is only the third Indian boxer to ensure a podium finish at the Games after Vijender Singh (2008) and M C Mary Kom (2012).

Having made sure of the first Olympics medal in boxing in nine years, the aim now is to reach where no pugilist her has reached, the final.

"Since the bout is in the afternoon, we have been training in the afternoon every day for the past two days," National coach Mohammed Ali Qamar informed on the eve of the crucial fight.

"As for Lovlina, all that needs to be conveyed in terms of strategy has been conveyed to her and she is ready. These two have never faced each other before so it is an unchartered territory for both of them," he added.

"She is very upbeat and confident about a good performance and I am sure she will deliver."

The boxer herself seemed pretty clear about her path ahead after the semi-final win over former World champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei.

"Medal tho bas gold hota hai (she is only chasing the gold medal), let me get that first," she had said after the historic triumph which ensured that the nine-strong Indian boxing team that came to Tokyo has at least one medal to celebrate.

Borgohain has shown remarkable composure for a debutant at the sport's biggest extravaganza. And it is this poise that might do the trick for her against the imposing opponent from Turkey, who is top seeded in the draw.

Surmeneli is also 23 and has collected two gold medals this year internationally.

The former middlewight (75kg) boxer claims to have promised an Olympic medal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan back in 2015 itself. 

Borgohain is no novice either and has secured two World Championship bronze medals so far in her career.

In fact, both Borgohain and Surmeneli competed in the 2019 championships, from where the latter came out champion, while the former settled for a bronze.

The two, however, did not face off after landing up in different halves of the draw.

Borgohain has been candid enough to admit that she hasn't been the most fearless boxer in her career but several mind exercises and meditation later, she has found the self-belief that is needed for a big stage like the Olympics.

"I have started believing in myself, I have stopped caring about what others say, that's how I have become fearless," she said.

That self-belief would be crucial when she steps inside the ring on Wednesday, trying to change the colour of her medal against a formidable rival.

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