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Lovlina to begin India’s campaign in Women’s World Championships

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  The focus will be on Indian women boxers for the next couple of weeks or so. With the IBA Women’s World Championships set to kick off with the preliminary stages on Monday, it will be a massive opportunity for the pugilists to rise to the challenge and leave a notable impression.

Lovlina Borgohain, who’ll be taking part in an international meet for the first time since her historic bronze medal effort during the Olympics, will be the first from the country to take the ring.

And she has a tricky battle in store. The Assam pugilist, who has two medals to her name in the event, will be up against Chen Nien-chin of Chinese Taipei, a familiar rival whom she beat last year in the Olympics to confirm a medal.

The two have also met in this event, with Chen Nien-chin getting the better of Lovlina in the semifinals of the 2018 edition and going on to clinch the top prize.

Having missed out on the all-important bout against Lovlina, Chen will have a score to settle. Lovlina and the Indian coaching staff will be aware of the same.

“It won’t be easy. We won’t underestimate any boxers. Lovlina has been doing well in recent times and we’re aware boxers from other nations will also be equally hungry. But, if we focus on our strengths and play to our potential, we can get the desired results,” India women’s chief coach Bhaskar Bhatt assessed.

Nikhat Zareen (52kg), who will be taking part in her second Worlds, will be one of the Indian boxers who’ll be determined to play to her potential.

She’ll begin her campaign against Herrera Alvarez Fatima P of Mexico on Wednesday. Anamika (50kg), Shiksha (54kg), Manisha Moun (57kg), Jaismine (60kg), Ankushita Boro (66kg) and Saweety Boora (75kg) are all likely to have a big challenge at hand as their weight categories are part of the Paris Olympic programme.

“Those weight categories will have serious competition. However, our boxers have also prepared well and I’m sure they’ll give a good fight,” Bhatt noted.

Ankushita is one of the boxers to get a bye and will begin her campaign from the Last 16 stage on May 15. Olympic champion (69kg), Busenaz Surmeneli, who shifted to 66kg, is one of the boxers in the draw.

With just 11 boxers in contention, experienced Pooja Rani (81kg) will begin her campaign in the Round of 16 stage and will face Timea Nagy of Hungary. Nandini, who competes in +81kg, needs just one win to seal a medal as there are only nine competitors in her event.

Nevertheless, Nandini might have to give it all to earn that medal as she will face Khadija Mardi of Morocco, a 2019 bronze medallist.

The preliminaries and quarterfinals will be conducted from May 9 to 16. The semifinals will be held on May 18 while the finals will be conducted on May 19 and 20.

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