Guwahati: A quick family trip to the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu was the only outing boxer Lovlina Borgohain undertook ever since she won the gold at the Asian championship in Amman late last year. For the next three months, the lanky pugilist had cut all connections, including telephonic and Whatsapp conversations, with the outer world: forget a trip back home to Golaghat.

Before the national camp resumed in Patiala in early 2023, the boxer had confined herself to the personal room allotted at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel here and had started training in full swing under the watchful eyes of Elite team coaches Sundar Singh Gariya and Tridib Borah.

“The sole focus from here on is the world championships, it’s a matter of pride for the boxing fraternity that it’s being held in India and as boxers we have the responsibility to keep the tricolour shining in the tournament. Also from a personal point of view, this tournament is very important for my career,” she had told EastMojo.

Boxing Federation of India (BFI) secretary Hemanta Kalita, who hails from Assam, said that the federation is proud of Lovlina’s performance

On Sunday, when the 25-year-old stood atop the podium after winning a closely-contested 75kg final against Australian Caitlin Anne Parker which was confirmed after a bout review at the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium in New Delhi, the punches resonated in her post-bout interaction.

For the Assamese boxer, the World Championship gold holds major significance on two counts. First, it helped her break the jinx of bronze medals at global tournaments which includes two at the World Championships in 2018 and 2019, and the third at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 which earned her global recognition. And secondly, the medal will boost her confidence as she confirmed her entry for the Hangzhou Asian Games, which serves as the first qualifying event for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

“This medal is very important for my career. Everyone had worked so hard, including my coaches, and our target was to become champion here. Now, I’ve qualified for the Asian Games and will focus on qualifying for the (Paris) Olympics from there,” said Lovlina.

After the highs of Tokyo in 2021, Lovlina endured a lull on her return to the ring after losing in the pre-quarterfinal of the World Championships and the quarterfinal of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games (both in the light middleweight 70kg category). Her detractors almost wrote her off, and the off-ring controversies surrounding her preference of coaches, leading to a Twitter post during the CWG, also somewhat rubbed salt into her performance woes.

By that time, the International Boxing Association (IBA) had rejigged the weight divisions for the Paris Games in 2024, and accordingly, the 69kg category which gave Lovlina the Olympic medal was scrapped and replaced by the 75kg class.

On Sunday, 25-year-old Lovlina Borgohain won a closely-contested 75kg final against Australian Caitlin Anne Parker

With hardly any options left, Lovlina switched to the middleweight 75kg category and achieved instant success in the three tournaments that she competed in the year. She made a golden debut in 75kg at the National Games in Gujarat and followed her victory with back-to-back gold medals at the Asian championships and the Senior Women’s Boxing National Championships in Bhopal in December.

“My preferred weight category was also removed and it was a struggle initially to get used to the newer weight. When I was in the 69kg category, the other boxers were shorter or of the same height as me, now everyone is taller. So naturally, I have to rely on the power game more. So far it has been a smooth ride in the new category, I want to thank all my coaches for the hard work they have put in at the camps,” she said while explaining the basics of her game.

The Indian women’s boxing team head coach Bhaskar Bhatt further simplified things up, saying, “Lovlina is a long-range boxer and the coaches worked while keeping her basic strength in mind. She has matured a lot and now plays with a lot more conviction and clarity, this medal is a result of all the hard work that has been put in to prepare her for the World (Championships).”

“I want to thank all my coaches for the hard work they have put in at the camps,” Lovlina said

In Sunday’s summit clash against the Australian, Lovlina banked more on her tactical game and managed to control the barrage of punches from Parker from a distance to take the first round 3-2. While Parker bounced back in style to pocket the second 4-1 emphatically, the contest boiled down to the third round. The Assam boxer used her left jabs to perfection and did enough to earn the bout review.

Back home at Baromukhia village, around 320kms from Guwahati, it’s early Rongali Bihu celebrations with villagers thronging the Borgohain residence, singing and dancing to the traditional tunes. Her parents Tiken Borgohain and Mamoni Borgohain are ecstatic at their daughter being crowned the world champion after several attempts.

Meanwhile, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) secretary Hemanta Kalita, who hails from the state, said that the federation is proud of Lovlina’s performance and expects her to carry on the momentum as she eyes a shot at the Paris Games in the Asian Games later this year.

Also Read | How Lovlina confirmed a hat-trick of gold medals in 2022

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