The veteran warhorse of Indian boxing and the most decorated name in India’s women boxing after Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, is raring to punch hard at the AIBA 2019 Women’s World Boxing Championships in Ulan Ude, Russia, which will be staged from October 3 to October 13.
The Manipuri, who in her prime, won the World Championship gold in 2006, is eyeing glory once again at the age of 37, as evident through her strong comeback in trials and rigorous practice sessions. Sarita defeated Simranjit Kaur, a bronze medallist in 64kg, who came down to 60kg, in the trials. Besides the gold in 2006, she has won two bronze medals each in 2005 and 2008. She also has five gold medals at Asian Championships, a bronze at the 2014 Asian Games and a silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Standing at the twilight of her career, Sarita is still eluded by an Olympic medal, and she is keen to win it in Tokyo.
Sarita and the legendary Mary Kom will spearhead a strong 10-member Indian contingent in the women’s World Boxing Championships. It has been an 11-year-old hiatus for the Manipuri to have not won a World Championships medal. A medal (gold or silver) this time will ensure her direct qualification for the first Olympic qualifier in Wuhan, China for the 2020 Tokyo Games – without having to undergo selection trials at home. With top-four finishing boxers in her weight division at the Wuhan meet qualifying for the Games, she will be aiming a good show.
However, Sarita is fighting a battle with herself. With a splendid performance at the worlds, she wishes to prove to her detractors who had raised questions on her agility, movement and speed suggesting that she has been caught up by age.
Sarita, who has maintained her same weight category for the last 10 years took a long break in 2018 as she was demoralised by her mother’s death. However, she came back strong this year winning a medal at the Asian Championships. The mother of one-child, Sarita has moulded herself with thorough training and dedication and will be eyeing a medal finish in Russia.
Along with Sarita, India Open gold-medallists Neeraj (57kg) and Jamuna Boro (54kg) also made the squad which will be headlined by six-time world champion M.C. Mary Kom (51kg), who was picked without a trial on the basis of her performance in the past few months.
Manju Rani (48kg), Jamuna Boro (54kg), Neeraj (57kg), Manju Bomboriya (64kg), and Nandini (81kg) will be competing in the mega-event for the first time.
World Championships bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) was also picked without undergoing trials.