Olympic bronze-medallist Lovlina Borgohain and former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen were on Monday selected in the Indian women's boxing team for this year's Asian Games in Hangzhou, China after emerging victorious in the trials held.
While Zareen secured her place in the 51kg division, Borgohain clinched the 69kg spot after trials held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. Last week, both of them also made the world championships squad with Zareen qualifying in the 52kg category and Borgohain making the cut in 70kg. In the Asian Games trial finals held this morning, Borgohain defeated Railways' boxer Pooja, and Zareen got the better of Manju Rani, a silver-medallist from the 2019 World Championships.
The Asian Games are due to be held from September 10 to 25. In the world championship trials held last week, selections were also confirmed for the Asian Games in three overlapping divisions -- 57kg, 60kg and 75kg. The Asian Games feature five women categories. In 57kg, Manisha won her trial bouts to make the cut for both the showpiece events, while the promising Jaismine (60kg) and the experienced Saweety Boora (75kg), who won a world silver medal in 2014, also ensured twin selections for themselves.
The world championships, to be held from May 6 in Istanbul, will be a comeback of sorts for Borgohain, who has not competed since her bronze-winning feat at the Tokyo Olympics. The Assam boxer, who has been training at the national camp since last month, was kept busy by several felicitations immediately after her podium finish in the Japanese capital. The 24-year-old became only the third Indian boxer ever to fetch an Olympic medal last year, joining an exclusive club which also includes Vijender Singh (2008, Beijing) and M C Mary Kom (2012, London).
The 25-year-old Zareen has had a great start to the year so far, winning a gold medal in the prestigious Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was her second gold (after 2019) at the European season-opener, making her the first Indian to achieve this feat. "I am exhausted because I haven't been able to get a break since Strandja. But I am so glad that the hard work is paying off. For now, just looking forward to a good meal after maintaining weight for so long," Zareen told PTI.
Mary Kom, a six-time world champion who is only targetting the Commonwealth Games this year, is the lone Indian woman boxer to have struck gold at the Asiad. She won the yellow metal in the 2014 Incheon edition after a bronze in the 2010 Guangzhou Games. In all, only four Indian women boxers have won medals at the Asiad since women's boxing made its debut in 2010. L Sarita Devi (bronze, 2014), Kavita Goyat (bronze, 2010) and Pooja Rani (bronze, 2014) are the other three medal winners in the sport in the continental showpiece.
The trials for the Commonwealth Games are due to be held in June. The men's trials for both the Asiad and the CWG will be held in May.
Indian women's team for Asian Games:
Nikhat Zareen (51kg), Manisha (57kg), Jaismine (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Saweety Boora (75kg).