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Former National boxing coach backs Nikhat Zareen for Olympics medal

Blas Fernandez believes that Nikhat Zareen can return with a medal from Paris Olympics while Lovlina needs to work on her aggresion.

Former National boxing coach backs Nikhat Zareen for Olympics medal

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 9 April 2024 11:24 AM GMT

Former coach of the Indian national boxing team Blas Iglesias Fernandez believes that world champion boxer Nikhat Zareen will return with a medal from the upcoming Paris Olympics while Lovlina Borgohain will have to show her killer instinct to win.

One of the longest-service boxing coaches in India, Blas is back in the country after being appointed by the Sports Authority of India as High-Performance Coach for two years.

He is currently stationed at the National Boxing Academy in Rohtak, Haryana.

Talking to SAI Media about India's chances, Fernandez said, "I love the boxing (style) of Nikhat. She is very intelligent. She has good ring tactics. She knows when she is winning and when she is losing. This is Nikhat’s time to prove herself. She had indeed lived in the shadows of Mary Kom but now it’s her chance to prove herself and make India proud."

Fernandez was part of the coaching team when Vijender Singh won the historic bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has been in the corner of legendary boxers like Dingko Singh, Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, and Vijender Singh.

He also said that Lovlina has the potential but she needs to improve her in-ring aggression and needs to be more proactive.

“Lovlina has to show more killer instinct. I have seen some of her bouts and I think she lost them because Lovlina was not aggressive and proactive enough. If she can box to her potential, she can finish among the medals in Paris,” said Fernandez.

After Tokyo, 26-year-old Lovlina has struggled with her form. Moving from 69 kg to 75 kg division was never an easy task. Lovlina did not finish among the medals at the 2022 World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. But the tall Assam girl bagged her Paris ticket after winning the world championship gold in 2023 and the silver medal at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games.

Nikhat (50 kg) and Lovlina (75 kg) are among the four Indian women boxers who have qualified for the July-August Summer Games in Paris. The others are Preeti Pawar (54 kg) and Parveen Hooda (57 kg).

Fernandez is hoping India’s men will also qualify for the Paris Games. Much will depend on how they fare in the second and final world qualifiers in Bangkok from May 23 to June 3. Up to 51 Paris quotas will be up for grabs and Indian boxers can potentially clinch nine more Paris spots.

“I reckon Nishant Dev and Amit Panghal can bag Paris quotas. They both have the potential to do this. Men’s boxing is very tough and should not be compared with women’s where the competition is relatively easier. I would like to see Indian men breaking the Olympic jinx,” said Fernandez.

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