Mary Kom in the 51 kg final will lead the charge on today (Saturday) as Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Jamuna Boro (54kg) and Manju Rani (48kg) all look to reach the finals at AIBA Women’s World Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia. The four girls show also mark the World Championships as India’s best-ever overseas performance. While the Manipuri legend will target an unprecedented seventh gold and an eighth medal overall, Lovlina will hope to better the colour of the bronze she won last year in New Delhi.
Manju Rani and Jamuna Boro have dazzled in their maiden appearances at the World Championships and will hope to finish on a high.
The four-medal haul has put India at the third position out of the 51 countries that participated in this tournament with Russia leading with 6 medals, followed by China at 5.
Between Mary Kom and a place in the final stands Turkey’s European champion Busenaz Cakiroglu, seeded second here. The London Olympic bronze medallist, who has six gold medals from this tournament, created history yesterday when she broke a tie with Cuban men’s legend Felix Savon to become the only boxer across male and female categories to have amassed a staggering eight medals from the Worlds. The only time Kom had a medal of a lesser colour was in 2001 when she had to accept defeat in the final.
Mary, who also won her solitary Olympic medal in 51kg, would settle for nothing less than a gold, having had consistent performances throughout the year that include top-podium finishes at the India Open and the Indonesia President’s Cup.
While the medal count has remained the same as last year, the assured performances from the youngsters have raised hopes of having medals of better colour this time. Manju Rani, especially, has taken over the 48kg mantle from Mary Kom in an impressive fashion and India can actually dream of defending Kom’s 2018 gold after the huge upset in the quarter-finals by Rani.
The 4-1 win over top seed Kim Hyang of North Korea validated the Strandja Cup silver medallist’s composure and her hunger to perform on the big stage. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see her continuing her sizzling run when she takes on Thailand’s Chuthamat Raksat, who upset fifth seed Yuliyanova Asenova.
Assam pugilist Jamuna Boro remained unfazed in her first appearance at this prestigious tournament. Having won the India Open and the Indonesia President’s Cup gold medals, Boro showed her conviction in ample amounts in her 4-1 triumph over Ursula Gottlob of Germany.
Even though she does have a stern test against top seed and former Asian Games bronze medallist Huang Hsiao-Wen of Chinese Taipei, Boro will look to draw inspiration from her own compatriot Manju Rani’s fabulous show against the top seed in her category.
With the 69kg top seed Chen Nien-Chin bowing out, Lovlina Borgohain’s chances of bettering her last year’s bronze has considerably increased. That said, she also needs to be wary of her next opponent, China’s Yang Liu, who herself knocked out the title favourite Nien-Chen.
“It is good to see we have equalled our last year’s medal count even though the aim still remains to conquer all four gold. Mary Kom remains an inspiration for all the other young girls and it is good to see they have all stepped up and are refusing to be intimidated by tougher opponents,” said Raffaele Bergamasco, the High-Performance Foreign Coach of Indian women’s boxing.
“The training ahead of the semi-finals has gone on well and we are all upbeat. Keeping our fingers crossed,” he added.
Mary Kom will be the first and the only Indian to take the ring in the afternoon session on Saturday and her bout is expected to be around 10:45 am IST. Manju Rani will be up around 3:30 pm IST, followed by Jamuna Boro at 4 PM IST and Lovlina Borgohain at 5 pm IST.