Spirited show and a few individual milestones at women’s boxing worlds

Even though there was no gold medal this time, head coach Mohammed Ali Qamar said the current performance was no less than that of the previous year.

Manju Rani (48kg, second left) poses with her silver medal as team-mates (from left) Jamuna Boro (54kg), M. C. Mary Kom (51kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) proudly display their bronze medals at the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships, in Ulan-Ude, Russia.   -  PTI

India’s encouraging performance in the world women’s boxing championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, must give a lot of confidence to the side ahead of the crucial Asian Olympic qualifying event in Wuhan, China, in February 2020.

Like the previous edition in New Delhi last year, India returned four medals (one silver and three bronze).

Even though there was no gold medal, head coach Mohammed Ali Qamar said the current performance was no less than that of the previous year. “Last time we performed at home and this time the venue and the conditions were different. It is an equally good performance even without a gold,” said Qamar, the first Indian to land a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

“We lost several bouts by close margins, I was puzzled with some of the decisions. Our protests were not registered. Things would have looked much different with a little bit of luck.”

The Indian boxers achieved some individual milestones.

The legendary M. C. Mary Kom, who switched to Olympic weight 51kg, became the most successful boxer in the World championships by securing her eighth medal, her first bronze.

“Mary boxed very well and had a clear bout in the semifinals (against second seed Busenaz Cakiroglu of Turkey). Unfortunately, it did not go her way. For 19 and 20-year-old girls, she has been an inspiration. The youngsters watch her work ethics, general training, padding and weight training and learn. It inspires them to give their best,” Qamar said.

Lovlina Borgohain, who landed her second consecutive worlds bronze medal in 69kg (an Olympic weight), underlined her potential. “Lovlina has become better with experience. She recovered from a bout of cold to finish on the podium. She, too, had a close semifinal bout (against Chinese Yang Liu). Her right punch needs some work,” added Qamar.

Twenty-year-old Manju Rani (48kg), who made rapid strides this year winning the national title, a bronze medal in the India Open and a silver in the Strandja Cup, reached the final on her debut and claimed a silver medal.

The youngster with correct boxing techniques has the capability of achieving bigger results.

“Manju had some tough bouts. It is good to see how she beat the top seed boxer and Asian silver medallist (Hyang Mi Kim) from North Korea. She has a bright future,” felt Qamar.

Jamuna Boro, a former world youth bronze medallist who had also won the India Open title earlier this year, showed her calibre by bagging a worlds bronze in 54kg.

“Jamuna has a lot potential. She had sparred well in the camp in Italy and we expected her to do well,” said Qamar.

The head coach was a little disappointed with the early exit of another India Open champion Neeraj, a promising boxer in Olympic weight 57kg. “Neeraj lost 3-2 (to Chinese Jieru Qiao) despite dominating her bout. She could have done much better. Her punches are very powerful for a 57kg boxer. We need to work on her foot movement and coordination, though,” he said.

Saweety Boora, a former world championships silver medallist, might have lost in her pre-quarterfinals contest to Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lousie Price of Wales in 75kg (Olympic weight), but she impressed the coaches with her gritty showing. “The girl who beat Saweety in such a keen contest did not get another strong opponent until she reached the final.”

Qamar added that the Indians gave a good account of their potential prior to the Asian qualifier. “The World championships gave us a fair idea of what to expect in the qualifiers. The performance here will help us in getting top seeding.

“We can qualify (for the Olympics) in all five weights. Even in 60kg, where Sarita Devi beat (last year’s 64kg worlds medallist) Simranjit Kaur to make it to the Worlds squad, we have got proven performers. We will continue our good work to win the maximum number of quota places,” said Qamar.