World Boxing Championship: Top women pugilists wary of Delhi’s air pollution

Ahead of the AIBA World Champioship, top women boxers have voiced their concerns about the harmful air quality in India's capital.

REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Delhi’s toxic air has left some of the women boxers, gathered in the city for the AIBA World Championship, gasping for breath but Indian people’s renowned hospitality is providing some comfort.

“We don’t feel good. Air here is the worst air from (sic) (compared to) everywhere. We had little problem with breathing. It’s hard to train here (in this air quality),” Bulgaria’s 2014 World Champion in 57 kg, Stanimira Petrova told reporters during an interaction.

European championship bronze medallist Azize Nimani also echoed Petrova’s sentiments.

“This is my first visit to India. I think in my honest opinion, it could be a little bit more cleaner but people are very, very nice,” Azize, who is best known for her 2016 win against MC Mary Kom in the 51 kg Olympic Qualifiers, said.

Read: Azize Nimani's life 'changed' after beating Mary Kom at 2016 Worlds

Paddy burning in parts of Punjab and Haryana has severely affected the air quality in Delhi and NCR region. Apex court’s directive did not deter people from bursting crackers on the Diwali day, further worsening the situation.

Azize admitted that breathing has been a bit of an issue but expects to adjust, having arrived well in advance for the championship.

“A little bit difficult (breathing). I have to be honest and because of it, I came one week before to acclimatize and ready to fight,” Nimani said.

Stoyka Petrova, a 2016 World Championship silver medallist, said that it won’t be an issue as air quality is “same for everyone“.

“I don’t think it (air quality) is a problem,” Stoyka said.

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For Stanimira, Bulgaria’s first ever woman boxing world champion, her success did help in growing interest among the sport’s followers in the East European nation.

She was into taekwondo but switched to boxing after assessing that she had more chance of making it to the Olympics.

For Nimani, winning a medal is top priority even though this edition of World Championship isn’t an Olympic qualifying event.

“I don’t think there is any less motivation. Everyone wants to win a World Championship medal and this is an event which gives you a fair indication as to where you stand in your category,” Nimani said.

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