The experienced hands, including MC Mary Kom and L. Sarita Devi, may be shouldering the burden of expectation for India, but it is the younger lot which could be the dark horses in the World Women's Boxing Championships at the Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex here.
Boxers like Manisha Moun (54kg), Sonia (57kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Simranjit Kaur (64kg), who are in their early 20s, are the lesser known names who have produced steady performances in recent times and have matured to be considered for an elite event like the Worlds.
Manisha, who cried after losing to the seasoned Meena Kumari in the National championships at Rohtak in January, carried a confident look at the Indian squad's training on Thursday.
Having beaten a reigning World champion in Dina Zholaman in an exposure event in Poland in September and following it up with some fine victories against other established names, Manisha is now bubbling with energy.
“In Poland, I had no idea about my opponents. I had no pressure and I boxed freely. Here also I am not giving too much attention to who are my opponents. Of course, I know I am meeting a World championship medallist (Christina Cruz) in my first bout,” said Manisha.
Head coach Shiv Singh said Manisha had improved a lot and knows how to box from a distance.
“Even Sonia, Lovlina and Simranjit have become better. Sonia now understands the importance of clear scoring. Lovlina uses her long reach better and Simranjit has cut down on her rush job.
“However, they can become even better,” said Shiv Singh.
As the World Championships started on Thursday, the home boxers prepared themselves for the upcoming challenges.
Manisha will take the ring against her American opponent Christina, while Sarita, who got a first round bye, will meet another experienced pugilist Sandra Brugger of Switzerland on Friday.
Sonia, Pinki and Simranjit will be seen in action on Saturday, while Mary, Lovlina and Bhagyabati Kachari will take the ring on Sunday.
Among the top names seen in action on the opening day, Commonwealth Games champion Anja Stridsman of Australia played her attacking game to go past Julieth Hernandez of Columbia with a 3-2 verdict in a 60kg bout, while Asian Games silver medallist Chol Mi Pang of North Korea defeated New Zealander Tasmyn Benny 5-0 in a 51kg contest.
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