Newly crowned world champion Nikhat Zareen is keen to use the experience gained in the recently concluded global event to qualify for the 2024 Olympics at the Asian Games scheduled later this year.
The Asian Games are the first qualifying event for the Paris Olympics for the boxers of the continent. Nikhat, who won the 52kg world title last year, dropped down to the 50kg weight class as it is an Olympic category.
“This tournament was a good experience. Especially in the 50kg category, which is an Olympic category. I didn’t get seeding also I had to fight six bouts. But in the end, I have won a gold medal here and I am happy,” Nikhat said.
The World Championships was Nikhat’s second international event in the 50kg event. She had won the gold at the Commonwealth Games in the same weight class last year.
“This is the first major competition in this category after the Commonwealth Games, which did not have much competition.
“But here countries from all over the world competed and had back-to-back matches also my body was a bit slow in some matches. I will learn from these experiences and try to become stronger.”
Nikhat is now only the second Indian boxer to have two World titles, the first being the trailblazing MC Mary Kom, who has won six golds.
“I feel good that I have won back-to-back gold and I’m happy to continue this winning streak. The Asian Games are about to come soon and people will obviously have expectations but I will take the pressure in a positive. Whatever the result it will be a good learning lesson for me.”
Moving down to 50kg has been a tough task for Nikhat, who has to shed 3 to 4kg from her natural weight to make the cut.
“This World Championships were tougher because last time I did not have to put in a lot of effort for weight management.
“But this time I had to follow a diet and I had to be disciplined and after the Nationals we did not get much time to prepare for the competition,” she said.
Delighted by the Indian contingent’s performance at the World Championships, Boxing Federation of India President Ajay Singh said the national governing body would try to identify the Olympic team as soon as possible.
World champions Nikhat and Lovlina Borgohain have already qualified for the Asian Games and thus have an opportunity to seal an Olympic berth at the continental event.
“The performance in this tournament has been historic. Next is the Asian Games, let’s see how we fare there. Preparation will go on continuously,” he told reporters on Sunday night.
“We will try to identify our Olympic team as soon as possible-- all individuals in all categories -- and focus on them, train them and study the opponents as well. Last time or preparation was left wanting.” Singh reiterated that BFI is keen to host the Olympic qualifiers and is in talks with the International Olympic Committee.
“All these championships that we are hosting, all these are preparatory championships for the Olympics. The big goal is the Olympics.” “We will try our best to host the Olympic qualifier. We are in talks with IOC to host our continental Qualifier. Not just that, we will try to host all the big championships because that helps create a boxing culture,” he added.
In the last Olympics, Lovlina was the lone boxer to win a medal.