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Asian Games

Lovlina Borgohain springs back from criticism to earn Olympic quota in different weight category

Lovlina Borgohain, forced to change her Tokyo Olympics weight category, has bounced back after some initial setbacks by getting into the Asian Games gold medal match. Lovlina's father says she has always answered criticism through actions.

Lovlina Borgohain springs back from criticism to earn Olympic quota in different weight category

Lovlina Borgohain punches her ticket for the Paris Olympics (AGNS)


Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 3 Oct 2023 9:38 AM GMT

Hangzhou: When Lovlina Borgohain sprang back up after being brought down to the floor of the boxing ring at the Hangzhou Gymnasium during the second round of her Asian Games semifinal on Tuesday afternoon, it was reflective of how she has fought back against the pitfalls she has faced over the last two years.

Since her medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Lovlina has had to increase her weight category by 6 kgs and has been at the end of several controversies. But just as people were ready to write her off, the 26-year-old from Assam has re-established herself as India's leading hope in boxing by following up on her World Championship title with an Asian Games silver or gold - which will be her first Asiad medal.

Speaking moments after securing her Paris Olympics quota and becoming the first Indian boxer to reach the finals of the 2023 Asian Games, Lovlina said, "There was a lot of stress on me because my qualification for the Paris Olympics depended on this match. Both my last two matches were difficult for me, as I could not play freely due to the pressure."

"This competition was crucial for me. I faced some challenges, but I have achieved what I wanted," Lovlina managed to say in the mixed zone before rushing away to begin her preparations for her gold medal match on Wednesday.

Lovlina suffered a setback in the second round of her semifinal, but dominated the final round to earn an unanimous win over her Thai opponent Baison Maneekon. "The second round went out of my hands, so I was prepared to give my 200% in the last round," Lovlina said.

Her Thai opponent, on the other hand, said that she will take a lot of learnings from having fought Lovlina.

"It is part of a learning process; to learn from a world champion how to fight, so I can go back and do my homework for the next competition," she said.

Lovlina has always answered criticism through actions: Father

Back at her home in Golaghat, Assam, where concrete roads were laid for the first time after Lovlina's triumph at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago, friends and family of the boxer gathered around a TV set to celebrate their local hero.

Lovlina's childhood coach Prashant Das said that given the circumstances, Lovlina displayed remarkable positivity from the very beginning of her match.

"After switching to the 75kg category following a loss in the Commonwealth Games, she has been consistently earning gold medals for India. I'm hopeful that she will secure a gold medal at the Asian Games too," he told The Bridge.

Lovlina's first major triumph in the 75kg category came at the 2022 Asian Boxing Championships. Four months later, she backed it up by becoming the world champion in New Delhi.

About Lovlina's change in weight category from 69kg to 75kg since the last Olympics (this was a forced change as the 69kg category was scrapped from the Paris programme), her father Tiken Borgohain said it was in fact the 75kg category where Lovlina had started out.

"I think Lovlina is now actually in the category which she enjoys. She plans to relocate abroad later this year to begin preparations for the Paris Olympics," said Lovlina's father.

"There have been a lot of criticism she has faced. Lovlina possesses a strong sense of determination and a touch of ego. During challenging times, people say various things, but Lovlina's distinctive quality is that she doesn't give importance to what others say. This has been how she has been since childhood, her response has always been to answer through exceptional performances," said Tiken Borgohain.

Lovlina had been just coming up the ranks when the last Asian Games had been held. Since then, she has enjoyed a meteoric rise before suffering a temporary blip as she changed to a new weight category. As her dominance over the last week in Hangzhou shows, her reach has been serving her well in the new category. A maiden Asian Games gold is now well within reach.

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