Lovlina, Mirabai concerned about possible exclusion of boxing and weightlifting from 2028 LA Games

For India, the possible exclusion of weightlifting and boxing is a major blow. Indian stalwarts Lovlina Borgohain, Mirabai Chanu, Sarita Devi and Vijender Singh among others express concern.

Weightlifting and boxing remain at risk of being removed from the 2028 Los Angeles Games.   -  REUTERS

Weightlifting and boxing remain at risk of being removed from the 2028 Los Angeles Games, the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, has warned.

Bach expressed his concerns about weightlifting, which has faced significant doping and governance issues. It was also made clear to boxing that it needed to make significant reforms following the judging scandal at the 2016 Rio Games.

For India, the possible exclusion of weightlifting and boxing is a major blow. These are sports Indian athletes have traditionally done well in and brought laurels at big-ticket events, including the Olympics. In Tokyo, Lovlina Borgohain won bronze, becoming the third Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal, after Vijender Singh (men's middleweight bronze, Beijing 2008) and MC Mary Kom (women's flyweight bronze, London 2012).

Meanwhile, Mirabai Chanu won India's first medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after clinching silver in the women's 49kg event. This was India's first silver in weightlifting at the Olympics. India's only previous medal in weightlifting was won by Karnam Malleswari, a bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Mirabai, a former world champion, has now won medals at the Asian Championships, the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships and the Olympics.

Malleswari said it would not be easy to throw weightlifting out of the Olympics. “A lot of countries from Europe and Asia do this sport, and a lot of them will miss out on medals if such a decision is taken. In India, we are known because of (our) weightlifting (achievements). It has been part of the Olympics for a very long time. I don’t think it will be removed,” said Malleswari.

RELATED| Weightlifting, Boxing and Modern Pentathlon not part of initial 2028 Olympics programme

Mirabai was not comfortable with the idea of weightlifting missing out on the Olympics programme. “I don’t know much about the issue. Of course, it will not be nice if weightlifting does not stay in the Olympics. Every athlete wants to compete in the Olympics at least once. It's everyone's dream. So it will be sad if that happens. I don't know what's going to happen. Let's wait and see,” Mirabai had said at Sportstar's first-ever North East Sports Conclave last month.

Lovlina also dreaded such a scenario for boxing. "It is a scary prospect, but it's not in my hands. I am a boxer and I can't even imagine the sport not being part of the Olympics," Lovlina said on the sidelines of the event.

RELATED| Dr Aaron, the American who put a spring in Mirabai Chanu's step

World and Olympic medallist Vijender Singh reacted in disbelief. “Boxing is a world sport, and boxers have been working hard all through Olympic cycles to prove themselves at the Olympics. In India, it is a growing sport, and after 2008 (Beijing Olympics bronze), our women boxers, such as Mary Kom and Lovlina, have been doing well and have got medals.  It is a way of women’s empowerment in our country.

“The IOC should give boxing one more chance. The Indian Government should create pressure (internationally) to help the sport stay in the Olympics programme. Let’s hope for the best.”

Former World champion Sarita Devi said IOC should show some patience and give AIBA more time to reform itself. “It will be very bad for the sport and a sad day for the sport (if it happens). The AIBA is changing and getting better. Such a decision will affect the athletes’ morale. After all, it’s not the boxers’ fault,” said Sarita.

RELATED| Lovlina Borgohain: ‘I’ve to go into competitions as a stronger boxer’

“The young boxers’ performance will get affected if such an unfortunate thing happens. A lot of kids take up boxing because it provides jobs. So the sport should not be punished,” said former Commonwealth Games and Asian champion Suranjoy Singh.

Gaurav Bidhuri, a World championships medallist, said it would dent the boxers’ motivation. “It’s one of the oldest sports and is played worldwide. Every boxer starts with an aim to compete in the Olympics and excel there. If boxing is taken out of the Olympics, then it will affect the motivation of the boxers,” said Bidhuri.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :