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Looking forward to a good showing in 2019: Nikhat Zareen

Looking forward to a good showing in 2019: Nikhat Zareen
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Published: 29 Jan 2019 9:53 AM GMT
After a relatively uneventful 2018, boxer Nikhat Zareen has effectively made it clear that she intends for things to be different this year after she won a Silver at the National Boxing Championships held in IIS Vijaynagar this month. She narrowly lost out to Pinky Jangra by split decision in the 51-kg finals but for Nikhat, who is looking forward to the rest of the year to make a mark and ensure an Olympic berth for herself, the Silver was not completely a source of joy. Having only returned to compete in the early half of 2018, Nikhat plans to leave no stone unturned in the wake of a year where she says she has already missed out on a lot of international exposure that could have come from the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
"Sometimes, instead of dwelling on what could have been, it's better to look to the future and ensure you give your best there,"
says Nikhat in conversation with The Bridge. She is currently training in Delhi at the National Camp ongoing in Delhi. February will see India's boxing contingent travel to Serbia for the 70th edition of Strandja. "Both Pinki and I will be travelling to Serbia. All weight categories will be going and since mine is an Olympic weight division, two of us- Pinki (Jangra) and I will be going. I'm looking forward to a good showing in 2019." 2019 will prove to be an important year for the boxer who first shot into attention in 2011 with a Junior World Championship Gold. She topped it up with a Youth World Championship Silver in 2015 and won the Senior Nationals in 2015.
"But since then my story in Nationals has been me falling short of victory after close fights. These things happen. Split decisions may not always go according to plan and the best you can do is learn from it."
The road to qualification for Tokyo 2020 is tough but focus and preparation must start from now itself. Nikhat, agreeing with that also mentions that her main target at the moment is the Asian Championships in April because that would be instrumental in qualifying for the World Championships in October. "There will be trials in March that will determine who will travel for the Asian Championships,"
she says. "That's what my short term target is. That is where the journey towards an Olympic berth will begin." The boxer had been out for nearly a year owing to a significant injury which stemmed from the fact that she dislocated her shoulder at the All-India Inter-University Championships in 2017. Reviving oneself from an injury is always tough for an athlete because, in addition to physical strength, it is mental stamina that one needs to regain. But since she made her comeback at the 56th Belgrade International Tournament, she won gold in the 51kg weight class. How does she assess her performance since her return?
"2018 began with me participating in the Nationals and I won a Bronze there after losing the semi-final by split decision. It was encouraging to bag a medal after only three months of rehabilitation and training after the injury,"
she says. "Recovery is a very slow process. After the Nationals, there was the India Open where again I lost to Mongolian boxer by split decision. That moment was quite sad. I was hoping to make the Commonwealth Games squad." "Before the Asian Games, I had won the Gold medal at Belgrade. But the selection was done on the basis of ranking and I missed out. But now I can safely say that I am all set for 2019. I am actually looking forward to it,"
she says. "The only way to keep spirits up is to take each tournament as it comes and not think about the success or failure of your previous tournament. Like, right now, I am working on improving my speed and trying out different combinations so it helps me better this year." "After I lost out in the Senior Nationals final this year, I realised that I was really expecting to win. I think I lose out on points because sometimes my opponent appears to be more aggressive in the ring. But that is going to change soon," she signs off. A broader acknowledgement of the Olympics and the difficulty of the road ahead to achieve that seems to be foremost on Nikhat's mind. With the 51-kg weight class seeing competitive puglists like Mary Kom and Pinki Jangra, Nikhat definitely has her work cut out for her.
Also read: The first day of training, I came back home with blood all over my face | By Nikhat Zareen
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