Debutant Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) assured India of their first boxing medal at the ongoing Olympic Games when she upstaged former world champion, Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei, to enter the semi-finals on Friday. The 23-year-old Assam boxer prevailed 4-1 to make the last four where she will square off against reigning world champion Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey, who hammered Ukraine's Anna Lysenko in her quarterfinal bout.
Borgohain, a two-time world championship bronze-medallist, displayed tremendous calm in the face of a plucky opponent, who had beaten her in the past.
She was aggressive to start with, followed it up with a tremendous counter-attacking game and kept her defence tight in the final three minutes to emerge triumphant.
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"She stuck to the plan of counter-attacking and taking advantage of her height. She had tried being aggressive with this girl in the previous bout and lost. So this time, we told her 'aap khade raho, usko aane do'," national coach Mohammed Ali Qamar told PTI.
"And what a cool mind she displayed, never got excited. Never tried to barge in. She executed the plan to perfection. Had she tried to go on the offensive, she would have ended up getting hit," he said.
The youngster, who was laid low by COVID-19 last year and missed a training trip to Europe because of it, let out a huge scream after the referee raised her hand, pent-up emotions finally getting the better of her.
Borgohain started out as a kickboxer before Sports Authority of India's Padum Boro, while scouting for talent in Assam's Golaghat district, noticed her.
He introduced her to boxing and she took to it like fish to water, winning a bronze medal in her debut world championship in 2018, following it up with another bronze the next year.
She is also a two-time Asian Championships bronze winner.
India's previous boxing medals have come through Vijender Singh (2008) and M C Mary Kom (2012). Both of them had won bronze medals and Borgohain would look to better that.
WITH PTI INPUTS