World champion Nikhat ‘Monk’ Zareen is calmly focused on achieving her target of winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Despite the distractions following her new status as the 52kg World champion, Nikhat has prepared well for her debut in the quadrennial event.
“When you have the hunger to achieve something, these distractions don’t bother,” said Nikhat during a virtual press conference organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Friday.
“There is no pressure on me. This will be a new experience. The 50kg is a new category for the Paris Olympics. The Commonwealth Games will be the first step to do well in that category.”
Nikhat said England’s Savannah Stubley and Ireland’s Carly McNaul would be among the tough opponents in 50kg.
“My focus is on boxers from England and Ireland. The same Irish girl participated in the World championships. Everyone (in 50kg) is shorter than me. I am working on boxing from a long distance and fighting against different types of boxers.”
Looking forward to a two-week camp – where boxers from Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and some smaller countries will take part – in Belfast, Nikhat said, “Before the World championships we did a two-week training camp in Istanbul. It helped me get some ideas about other boxers. This camp will also be a good experience.”
Nikhat, who has produced some fine performances in 2022, said her approach had become more serious of late.
“Now I prepare like a monk for a competition. I am very dedicated. Earlier, I used to go out on weekends, eat junk food, but now I have become a very serious athlete. That way my attitude has changed.
“In 2021 I was looking for an opportunity as many competitions did not happen due to covid-19. Once the Nationals happened, I did not look back. I had just one aim -- whatever be the competition, I needed to give my 100 percent. The first was Strandja Memorial, where I beat a Tokyo Olympics medallist. I prepared well and did well in the World championships.
Definitely, 2022 has gone well so far. I want to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games. I hope 2023 and 2024 also become good years for me.
— Nikhat on CWG medal hopes
According to Nikhat, visualisation has played a big part in her success.
“When I had dislocated my shoulder (in 2017), I took help from my psychologist. She used to tell me, ‘Whenever negative things come to your mind, ignore them. Take a long breath, think about positive things and visualise. Visualisation has helped me improve myself not only as a boxer but also as a human being.
“During World championships all my bouts were in the afternoon session and the final was in the evening session. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I kept calm and I visualised that I was winning the bout, my hand was being raised when the winner’s name was announced and I was standing on the podium with the National anthem playing. Exactly those things happened and those techniques helped me.
“Now I visualise myself as the Commonwealth Games champion,” said Nikhat.
Besides the visualisation techniques, Nikhat also wants to continue her fine teamwork with head coach Bhaskar Bhatt.
“Before going into the wing for the semifinal bout against Tokyo Olympics silver medallist (Buse Naz Cakiroglu of Turkey) in the Strandja Memorial (I had lost to her in the 2021 Bosphorous event with a unanimous decision) Bhatt Sir asked me to box like a champion without resting my hands. My confidence got boosted and I was determined to give 100 per cent. After in the first round I led 3-2, in the second round I led 4-1 and was excited to win it. It was unbelievable. I was very emotional.
“In December 2021 I started working with Bhatt Sir. Our understanding is good. Hope it continues like this,” said Nikhat.