Tokyo Olympics: Lovlina Borgohain on cusp of history
A medal already secured, Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) will be in pursuit of history when she takes on reigning world champion Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey in the semi-finals in Tokyo on Wednesday, aiming to become the first-ever Indian boxer to advance to the Olympic Games final.
The 23-year-old from Assam has become only the third Indian boxer to ensure a podium finish at the Olympics after Vijender Singh (2008) and MC Mary Kom (2012).
Hers is also the first Olympic medal in boxing in nine years and the aim now is to reach where none before her has reached — the final.
“Since the bout is in the afternoon, we have been training in the afternoon everyday for the past two days,” national women’s coach Mohammed Ali Qamar said 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 unchartered territory for both,” he added. “Lovlina 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 quarter final win over former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Taiwan.
“Medal to bas gold hota hai, let me get that first,” she had said after the historic triumph which ensured that the nine-strong Indian boxing team that came here has at least one medal to celebrate.
According to SAI coach Padam Boro, who had spotted Lovlina during a talent hunt in Assam’s Golaghat district way back in 2012 and started honing her talent, “a gold is there for her to take,” if she plays the way she did against her Taiwanese opponent.
Lovlina has shown remarkable composure for a debutant at the sport’s highest stage.
And it is this poise that might do the trick for her against the Turkish opponent who is seeded top in the draw.
Surmeneli is also 23 and has collected two international gold medals this year.
Borgohain, too, has two world championship bronze medals against her name. In fact, both Borgohain and Surmeneli competed in the 2019 championships, from where the latter emerged as the champion while the former settled for a bronze.
The two, however, did not face off after landing up in different halves of the draw.
There was a time when Lovlina had turned to meditation to control her mind but she has abandoned it now.
“I have started believing in myself, I have stopped caring about what others say. I play fearlessly, for myself, without carrying any burden of expectation,” she said.
“I have decided that instead of depending on any external factor, jo bhi ho jaye, I have to win…agar meri haath bhi toot jayee, phir bhi mujhe jitna hain,” said the ‘fearless’ boxer.