Setting sights on Asian Games, top guns hope to impress at National women's boxing meet

India’s overwhelming success in the World youth women’s boxing championship has spurred the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) to focus on nurturing young talent for three major events this year and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Laishram Sarita Devi, who would compete in 60kg, said the event would serve as a stepping stone to achieve her bigger dreams.   -  M. MOORTHY

India’s overwhelming success in the World youth women’s boxing championship has spurred the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) to focus on nurturing young talent for three major events this year and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

When the National women’s boxing championship starts at the National Boxing Academy (NBA) here from Saturday, the scouts will keep an eye on the up-and-coming boxers ahead of the Commonwealth Games in April, the Asian Games in August and the World championship in Delhi in November.

Chief national coach Shiv Singh said the focus would be on identifying young talent. “We are looking forward to the new boxers, who can do better in future,” said Singh.

With an aim of making it into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, several rookie boxers will be keen to challenge the established names, including former World championship medallists L. Sarita Devi, Sonia Lather and Kavita Chahal.

Five-time World champion and London Olympics bronze medallist M.C. Mary Kom will be the biggest name to skip the event.

Sarita, who would compete in 60kg, said the event would serve as a stepping stone to achieve her bigger dreams.

“I want to compete in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. After the forgettable episode of 2014 Asian Games, my target is to win the gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games.

“The World championship is returning to the country after 2006. Then, I had won a gold medal and we as a team had taken the overall championship. I want to repeat that.

“But my ultimate dream is to get an Olympics medal. I tried before but could not qualify. This time all my energy is directed towards that goal,” said 35-year-old Sarita, who won a 64kg Asian championship bronze in November.

The multiple-time Asian champion said women’s boxing had become more competitive now. “We made a record by winning five gold medals in the World youth championship. So many talented boxers are coming up; you cannot take anyone lightly. The BFI and the Government have understood about the potential in women’s boxing and have been giving all support.”

The tussle between the young and the seasoned boxers should offer some fascinating contests in event that will serve as the selection trials for the Commonwealth and Asian Games.