After confirming her second consecutive World Championships medal, Nikhat Zareen recalled the time when she would sit in the IG Indoor Stadium as a spectator to watch boxers from across the globe compete at the 2018 edition of the tournament here.
The 26-year-old eked out a 5-2 win against two-time World Championship bronze medallist Thailand’s Chuthamat Raksat in the quarterfinals to assure India of at least a bronze medal in the 50kg category.
The Telangana boxer has become a household name in the past year thanks to her gold-winning streak in 2022, where she won the Strandja Memorial, World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
However, a few years back, she struggled to make the Indian team as she competed in the weight category dominated by the legendary six-time World Champion MC Mary Kom.
“When we came here from Patiala, as soon as I entered the IG Stadium, there were flashbacks of 2018. I was not a part of the Indian team back then, and here came as a spectator to watch the bouts and spar with all the boxers to gain experience.
“But today, I am delighted as I am not only a part of the Indian team but have also confirmed a medal,” the star boxer said after the bout on Wednesday.
Nikhat, who has been handed a tough draw with six bouts to play for the gold, said she is getting less time to recover. Nikhat has already played four bouts since the tournament began last Thursday (March 16).
This week, the 26-year-old fought on a Tuesday and Wednesday and is slated to play in the semifinals on Thursday.
After her pre-quarters bout, she said she felt “fatigued”.
“I am getting less time for recovery, my bouts are happening in the evening sessions, so I have to set my weight for tomorrow’s bout as soon as I go from here, I’ll have to do weight management.
“As soon as I do my morning weigh-in, I start my recovery and get ready for the evening session,” Nikhat said.
On Wednesday, Nikhat’s bout went into review with the announcer announcing that the boxer in the blue corner had won the contest with Raksat jumping with joy only to be told that the result of the fight simultaneously going on in the other ring.
“For a few seconds, I was shocked that they announced the boxer in blue as the winner, but then I realised that it was the announcement for the other ring, but then they raised my hand, so I was happy.”
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