Tokyo Olympics: India's Lovlina chases historic final berth
Lovlina has shown remarkable composure for a debutant in the world's greatest sports event
Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) will be in pursuit of history when she takes on reigning world champion Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey in the Olympic semifinals in Tokyo on Wednesday, aiming to become the first ever Indian boxer to advance to the Games final.
The 23-year-old boxer from Assam, who started her career as a Muay Thai fighter, has become only the third Indian boxer to ensure a podium finish at the showpiece after Vijender Singh (2008) and MC Mary Kom (2012).
"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 said.
"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 quarterfinal win over former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei.
"Medal to bas gold hota hai, (there’s only one medal which is gold) let me get that first," she had said after the historic triumph which ensured that the nine-member Indian boxing team that came here 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 seeded top 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.
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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