MUMBAI: Lovlina Borgohain’s calculated assault in the ring against Chen Nien-chin ensured a women’s light welterweight class semi-final berth for the long-limbed boxer.
The confirmation of a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for India resulted in a stream of congratulatory messages from former medal-winners, among whom is Beijing 2008 bronze winner Vijender Singh. - the first Indian fighter to earn an Olympic medal, tall and technically sharp who went on to join the pro ranks.
Vijender would be an ideal example to follow for Lovlina, points out Kishen Narsi, who was present ringside at Beijing for bouts featuring Indian fighters. He watched the Lovlina-Chen quarterfinal bout from Tokyo on television. “Vijender got an opportunity and made the most of it. He was ready with tactics for every opponent (lost to Cuba’s Emilio Correa on points in the semifinals). I feel Lovlina should also be focussing solely on the next bout (against world champion Busenaz Surmeneli).”
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With the bronze medal confirmed (awarded to losing semi-finalists in boxing), there is a tendency among Indian fighters to dream of the gold medal, two bouts away. Narsi, the Competitions Chairman (Asia) and associated with the operations part of Tokyo 2020 boxing competition, feels Lovlina and her support team’s focus should be only on the next match and not think so far ahead. “She has seen how the Turkish boxer fights. Her time from now till the semi-final (August 4) should be spent only on preparing.”
Narsi admits the task is tough. “Lovlina approaches the early part of the match in the right way. When you are judged over three rounds, the impression created in the first round is decisive,” he said.
Vijender is also on record about the 21-year-old Indian’s approach in Tokyo reminding him of his amateur days. He made Olympic debut at Athens 2004 and gained experience and confidence in time for Beijing 2008. Lovlina is the third medallist from boxing after Vijender (Mary Kom won a bronze at London 2012).
Mary Kom’s cautious approach in the first of three rounds against Ingrit Valencia of Colombia made the difference in the flyweight bout earlier, pointed out Narsi, a former boxer with considerable experience in judging as Referee-Judge, International Technical Official (ITO) Jury member, Jury Chairman.
“She tried her best to make up in the second and third round by displaying an attacking approach, but lost narrowly,” he said.
The Indian lost on a split decision, 2-3 in the pre-quarterfinal on her second Olympic appearance.
He expressed surprise at an experienced world champion, multiple Olympian’s outburst over being asked to change the dress prior to the fight started. “She has the experience to not allow such things to be at the back of her mind,” said Narsi.
Lovlina got a first-round bye, beat two difficult opponents and will step into the ring against a rated Turkish rival. The Indian is a win away from sniffing distance of a first-ever gold. Narsi feels that attention on her and praise for the bronze can be distracting. “So far her mind is working, the team around her is working quietly and efficiently. The focus should be on whatever is needed for the next bout.”
Lovlina’s entourage includes personal coach Padum Boro, national coach Sandhya Gurung and foreign coach Raffaele Bergamasco from Italy.
Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli scored a 5-0 win over Ukraine’s Anna Lysenko in her quarterfinal and will have time till August 4 to prepare for the semi-final, like the Indian.
The winner will face the winner between Gu Hong (China) and Oshae Jones (USA).