Kolkata: Lovlina Borgohain, a 23-year-old boxer from the north eastern state of Assam, ensured India of a second medal in the Tokyo Olympics when she reached the semi-finals of women’s welterweight (69 kg), beating Chen Nien-Chin of Chinese Taipei in a quarterfinal bout at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
A day after MC Mary Kom failed in her attempt to add another Olympic medal to her bronze in London 2012 after a controversial defeat on points, Lovlina
defeated Chen 4-1 on points in the quarter finals, assuring India of a medal as there is no play-off for losing semi-finalists in the Olympics.
She will meet Surmeneli Busenaz of Turkey in the first semi-final on August 4.
‘‘I wanted to prove it to myself that I can beat Chen as I had never won against her in four previous meetings. I didn’t have a strategy in mind as the opponent can see through my plan and decided to take it as it comes,’’ a smiling Lovlina said in a virtual media interaction later.
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Much as the girl from a remote Baramukhiya cillage of Assam has already become the toast of the nation, she made it clear that her goal doesn’t end with a bronze medal. ‘‘I want to speak to you after the final as I don’t want to stop with the bronze,’’ she said.
Like so many other athletes, Lovlina’s run-up to Tokyo was also marred by a bout of Covid-19. ‘‘Yes, it did affect my plans and I also missed an event in Italy. However, I must thank the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) for providing with all the logistical support including online sessions,’’ said Lovlina, who took to boxing with May Kom as the idol.
An ardent fan of ‘The Greatest,’ Muhammad Ali (no surprises there), she said: ‘‘I have followed his videos, things like his long distance punches and footwork.’’
An uninhibited Lovlina came out aggressively on Friday and attacked Chen from the start, landing a few body blows and left hook-and-jab combinations, winning the first round 3-2 after getting 10 points from three of the five judges. Chen got in a few scoring punches but Lovlina defended well and kept the score in check.
Mine of talent
In the second round, Chen went on the attack in an attempt to negate Lovlina’s advantage but the Indian, who took up combat sport Muay Thai at age 13 before a switch to boxing, used her height and quick feet to keep distance and did not allow her rival any chances to land good scoring punches. Her tactics won approval from the judges as got 10 points from all five judges.
‘‘It was in 2010 that she participated in a Muay Thai event in Kolkata. After winning it, she wanted to take up boxing as career and it was her dream to bring an Olympic medal for India. We are very happy for her and hope she can win the upcoming fights too,’’ Tiken Borgohain, her father, told the local media in Assam.
Interestingly, both the medal winners for India in Tokyo so far are from North East with weightlifter Mirabai Chanu landing a silver last week. Ajay Singh, president of BFI, summed it up: ‘‘North Eastern India, to my mind, is a mine of talent which was neglected all these years. Our womenpower, coupled with the talent, is an irresistable combination.’’