People expect, criticise a lot since my Olympic medal: Lovlina Borgohain
Fresh after being crowned Asian champion, Lovlina Borgohain speaks about the dip in form she suffered after the Tokyo Olympics and how she endured the criticism.
July 30, 2021 was a special day in Lovlina Borgohain's career. It was on this very day that the boxer shot to fame by reaching the semifinals, assuring herself of at least a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Lovlina had previously won two consecutive bronze medals at the Boxing World Championships in 2018 and 2019 respectively, but this was different. She was not only the third Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal, but was also the first-ever athlete from Assam to be assured of an Olympic podium.
What followed was something dreamy. Even before she stepped into the boxing ring in Tokyo for her semifinal clash five days after assuring a medal, her village back in Assam was readying itself for a grand welcome - by building a brand new motorable road.
Though she lost the semifinal by a unanimous decision, Lovlina Borgohain was already a star back home in India.
But any kind of stardom comes with a cost. Especially in today's day and age where people are so invested in almost each and every public figure's life via social media.
While Lovlina enjoyed stardom to the fullest in the early day post the Tokyo Olympics, things soon took a turn in a different direction.
The 25-year-old's performance dropped a bit after the Olympics, including forgettable campaigns at the 2022 Women's World Boxing Championships and the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, and critics were soon out with a sword to her neck.
"Life has changed a lot since I won the Olympic medal. Back then, I was nobody. Today people know me and look up to me as a role model. Hence, they expect a lot more from me," Lovlina said in a chat with The Bridge.
"If my role model does not perform well, I would be disappointed too. It is the same case here. Since the Olympic medal, I had not been at my best and so naturally there was a lot of criticism and trolling," she added with a chuckle.
'Change in weight category affected performance'
Lovlina acknowledges that a part of the dip in her performance post the Tokyo Olympics was due to the switch she had to make in her weight category to be in contention to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
"The couple of tournaments I played after the Olympics was at a time when I was training keeping in mind the switch in weight category for the Paris Olympics," said Lovlina, who now competes in the 75kg division, moving six kilograms up from 69kg, the division in which she won her Olympic medal.
"When you change your weight category, your body undergoes a lot of changes. I was somewhere caught in between the two weight divisions and it naturally affected my performance," Lovlina added.
The Assamese pugilist, however, seems to have found her feet now in the 75kg division, winning the gold medal at the recently concluded 2022 Asian Boxing Championships in Amman, Jordan.
"It was a very different challenge for me competing in 75kg. I did not know a lot of my opponents but at the end managed to come out on top. The Asian level is very tough for Indian boxers. There are a lot of good players (in Asia), so it felt good to overcome this challenge after a slump in form," Lovlina said.
She also stressed that competing at the 2022 National Games, which preceded the Asian Championships, gave her the much-needed confidence to do well in the increased weight category.
"The National Games was my first-ever event in 75kg. India has a lot of good boxers in this category and winning gold there gave me a lot of confidence going into the Asian Championships," she stated.
Lovlina feels not taking the criticism and trolls on social media to heart is one of the major reasons behind her resurgence in the last two months.
"I would not say that I shut off media or social media completely. I just try and take these criticisms positively as a motivation to do better. If you do not face such difficulties in life, you would not grow. These things just push me to do better," the Olympic bronze medallist said.
With the 2023 Women's World Boxing Championships slated to be held in India after five long years, Lovlina has her eyes set on the global event for now."It is a big deal for us that the World Championships is happening in India. The focus is to win that title and then move into the Asian Games," Lovlina signed off.