Manju Rani Settles for Silver on Debut at Women's World Boxing Championships
Manju Rani had to settle for silver at the Women's World Boxing Championships after losing her 48kg final to Russian opponent Ekaterina Paltceva with a scoreline of 4-1 at Ulan-Ude in Russia on Sunday.
Despite the loss, this was a historic campaign for Manju, who became matches Mary Kom's feat after reaching the final at Worlds in her debut. Back in 2011, it was Mary Kom first who had qualified for the final in her debut campaign. Apart from these two, Sonia Chahal, Sonia Lather, Saweety Boora, Sarjubala Devi and Usha Nagisetty had also made it to the final in their maiden appearance at the World Championships.
Manju was the only Indian in fray on the finals day of the Worlds and with this, India finished their Women's World Boxing Championships campaign with a silver and three bronze.
Manju had reached the final with an emphatic win over former World Championships bronze medallist Chuthamat Raksat of Thailand 4-1. Her pace and aggression increased as the bout progressed and she eventually secured the win.
After the semi-final win, Manju had said, "I had already played her in Thailand Open semi-finals so I had the experience and knew what to expect. I managed to land a few uppercuts in the first round but she caused me trouble in the second round. I followed the strategy of the coaches in the last round and won the bout."
Manju was in terrific form throughout the tournament and also downed top seed Kim Hyang of North Korea in the quarter-finals.
There was very little separating Rani and her rival, both of whom looked to attack in the first round. The Russian stood out for her near perfect left hooks in the opening three minutes.
In the second round, the Indian connected some good straights and seemed to have the upperhand over the crowd favourite.
The proceedings slowed down in the final three minutes when both the boxers adopted a cautious approach. There was quite a bit of holding, requiring the referee's intervention quite a few times.
However, at the end of it the Russian emerged victorious perhaps for her a shade sharper reflexes. The Indian contingent was however visibly upset after the Paltceva's hand was raised as the victor.
Rani broke into the national camp only this year by winning the national crown for Punjab after not getting the selection nod in Haryana.
Earlier this year, she won a silver medal on debut at the prestigious Strandja Memorial Tournament, one of Europe's oldest and most competitive boxing events.
Rani hails from Rithal Phogat village in the Rohtak district of Haryana. The youngster lost her father, a Border Security Force officer, to cancer in 2010.
(With PTI inputs)