Sunday, April 21, 2024

Nikhat Zareen, Lovlina Borgohain punch their way to CWG berths

Lovlina Nikhat

New Delhi, June 11: Reigning world champion Nikhat Zareen and Olympic bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain on Saturday sealed their berths in the Indian team for the Commonwealth Games with dominating wins in the selection trials here.
While Nikhat (50kg), the two-time Strandja Memorial gold medallist, blanked Haryana’s Minakshi 7-0 in an unanimous decision, Lovlina (70kg) outclassed Railways’ Pooja by an identical margin.
Nitu Ghanghas (48kg) and Jaismine Lamboriya (60kg) were the other boxers, who also sealed spots for the quadrennial event, which is set to be held in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8.
Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom missed out on a chance to fight in what would have been her last CWG. The veteran boxer was forced to withdraw after suffering a knee injury midway into her bout on Friday.
The 39-year-old will thus be unable to defend her light flyweight title. The Manipuri had created history at Gold Coast in 2018 by becoming the first Indian women pugilist to win a gold medal at the event.
At the Indira Gandhi Stadium, Nikhat looked in control throughout her bout, landing clear punches as she danced around the ring dodging her opponent. The Telangana boxer looked at ease in her new weight category. She had won the world championship gold in the 52kg weight division last month.
“It was very difficult for me to get back into my competitive zone because since World Championships I hadn’t trained. I went home and then there were a lot of programmes,” Nikhat told reporters after the bout.
“I know the game that I have shown here at the trials is not even 50 per cent of what I showed at the World Championships but still I managed to beat all my opponents by unanimous decision,” she added.
Tokyo bronze medallist Lovlina, who is coming off an underwhelming World Championships campaign, too put up a convincing performance to punch her way to the Birmingham event.
“I’m happy that I have won. I trained a lot after the world championships for this because I was well-prepared for the worlds. I have to give my hundred percent now,” Lovlina, a two-time world championship bronze medallist, said.
A two-time former youth world champion, Nitu eked out a 5-2 split decision win over 2019 silver medallist Manju Rani.
The Haryana boxer is enjoying a good year. She had won the gold at the Strandja Memorial tournament earlier this year.
Jaismine, the 2021 Asian youth boxing championship bronze medallist, out-punched 2022 world championship bronze medallist Parveen Hooda in a fast-paced, fiercely contested light-middleweight final.
India had finished second in the 2018 edition of the Games, returning with a haul of nine medals, including three gold and as many silver and bronze.
The men’s team for the quadrennial event has already been named.
Women’s team: Nitu (48kg), Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Jaismine (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (70Kg). (PTI)