Boxing: Undeterred by selection drama, Nitu Ghanghas eyes World Championships podium
"I am not letting the outside noise affect me. I am focused on the positives and prepared for the Worlds," Nitu Ghanghas told The Bridge.
New Delhi: The 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nitu Ghanghas is undeterred by the team selection controversy which has engulfed the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) ahead of the 2023 Women's World Boxing Championships in Delhi.
The BFI had introduced a new selection criterion following an evaluation system at the national camp instead of the more traditional national trials route. The evaluation was conducted by high-performance director Bernard Dunne along with coaches Bhaskar Batt and CA Kuttapa.
As the coaches selected a team across 12 different weight categories, three boxers - Manju Rani in 48kg, Shiksha Narwal (54kg), and Poonam Poonia (60kg), moved to the Delhi High Court terming the selection process unfair.
Nitu Ghanghas was selected in the now-challenged 48kg weight division by national champion Manju.
"I am not letting the outside noise affect me. I am focused on the positives and very much prepared for World Championships. Everyone has the right to talk about their problems but I am focused on winning at World Championships," Ghaghas told The Bridge.
The 22-year-old did not mince her words and opined that the selection criteria for the World Championships were well-defined.
"The selection criteria were clearly defined by the coaches and BFI. Everyone knew that boxers in the national camp will be evaluated and number one from every category will be selected," she said.
Though the court is yet to pass a judgement on the issue, Nitu remains focused on rectifying her mistakes from the World Championships last year and earning a spot on the podium in front of the home crowd.
"I have played mostly in the 48 kg category and am very well aware of my competitors. I think, a better understanding of the style of these players will hold me in good stead and I will rectify my mistakes from my last outing at the Worlds," Ghanghas said.
Known for her aggressive and attacking play in the boxing ring, Nitu believes that approach comes naturally to her.
"Attacking game comes very naturally to me. I always want to be dominant against my opponent and don't want to give them any space, so it is so natural for me to attack," he said.
"My strategies differ from opponent to opponent. I usually try to control the attack of the opponent and then counterattack against them to end the bout," the two-time Youth World Champion added.
While she is competing in the 48kg for World Championships, Nitu Ghanghas will have to bulk up to 50kg sooner than later if she is to make it to the 2024 Paris Olympics. She will switch to 50kg ahead of the Asian Games since the postponed continental event is expected to serve as the Olympic qualifiers.
"I am working on my weight balance right now. I have reduced my weight from 50 kg to 48 kg for the World championships for now. I will go back to 50kg for Asian Games as it will be the Olympic qualifiers," she said.
"At this moment, I am just putting all my efforts and energy towards a World Championship medal," Nitu added.
If she moves up to 50kg, Nitu Ghanghas will be up against the reigning 52kg World Champion Nikhat Zareen - who has since made the 50kg slot her own.
But the Bhiwani lass is unfazed. For now, she has the World Championships to focus on.