The number of medals assured is half of what they managed in their best ever performance but Indian women’s boxing regained some of the ground lost by a barren Asian Games campaign with four semifinalists in the world championships here.
The celebrated MC Mary Kom (48kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Sonia Chahal (57kg) and Simranjit Kaur (64kg) have assured themselves of at least a bronze by reaching the semifinals.
“The performance has exceeded expectations and we could have won more medals but for a couple of results. Mary Kom is of course the star but it’s nice to see other girls also stepping up,” Indian boxing’s High-Performance Director Santiago Nieva told PTI.
“Looking at this performance, we are doing fine in the sport,” he added.
Out of the 40 semifinalists in 10 weight categories, five are from China, while North Korea, Turkey, United States have three boxers each.
Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Chinese Taipei and Ukraine have two boxers each in the semifinals to be held on Thursday and Friday.
Australia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Colombia, Ireland, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Thailand and Wales still have one participant each in the last-four stage.
Altogether 21 countries will win at least a medal in New Delhi, which is higher than the Astana 2016 edition where 19 countries were in the medal rankings.
Asia continued its domination of world boxing with 21 medals set to be won by boxers from this continent, five more than in 2016.
Europe will get 14 medals while the Americas and Oceania will pocket four and one medal respectively. No boxer from the African continent is left in the fray at the semifinal stage.
For India, this edition at home will be the best in the last five editions of the biennial marquee event.
India’s best performance ever was the eight medals, including four gold, in 2006, an event held at home. After that, India won four medals in 2008, two in 2010, one in 2012, two in 2014 and one in 2016.
India have not won a gold since 2010 when Mary Kom won her last medal.
The 35-year-old Mary Kom, a mother of three, has become the most successful pugilist in the women’s world championships history by assuring herself a seventh medal.
Her previous six medals include a five gold and a silver.
If the dimunitive Manipuri, also called ‘Magnificent Mary’, wins a gold on Saturday, she can match Cuban men’s legend Felix Savon as the joint most successful pugilist in the World Championships history.
Savon, who also won three Olympic gold medals during his illustrious career, won six gold and one silver in heavyweight in the World Championships between 1986 and 1989.
Mary Kom has enjoyed a stellar year so far, claiming gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, the inaugural India Open and an international tournament in Poland.
“The country and the fans want a gold and I am also trying a gold. But anything can happen in a boxing bout,” she had said after her first bout of the tournament.
The three other Indian semifinalists are among the young brigade in the 10-member Indian team. All the three are in their early 20s and are competing in their debut championships.