Hungry for medals, Nikhat Zareen hopes boxers will win 4 CWG golds
New world champion Nikhat Zareen is hungry to win more medals for the country and expects a record four gold medals from India’s boxing contingent at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from July 28.
The CWG’s top show of Indian pugilists came at the 2018 edition in Gold Coast, where six-time world champion Mary Kom became the country’s first female boxer to become champion, as she returned with a record three gold medals, three silver. and three bronze medals.
In Birmingham, the new boxing sensation from Telangana would make her much-anticipated CWG debut and she was hoping for “at least eight medals” from India’s 12-member boxing squad.
“I expect at least eight medals, of which I will take four gold from the boxers. Let’s see what happens,” said the 26-year-old, who won the 52kg flyweight gold medal at the Championships. of the world in Turkey in May, during a virtual media interaction organized by the Sports Authority of India.
“We are all experienced boxers. We have world championship medalists and Olympians. Hope everyone gets some gold! I’m still hungry to win a medal for the country, I’m still hungry.
“It’s hard to predict a medal before the end of the draw because sometimes you end up with a tough draw and get knocked out in the first round.” In Birmingham, India will have a boxing contingent of eight men and four women.
Apart from Zareen, India’s women’s boxing team will feature Olympic bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain (70kg), 2021 Asian youth bronze medalist Jasmine (60kg) and Nitu, a two-time former youth world champion.
Olympians Amit Panghal (51 kg) and Shiva Thapa (63.5 kg) will lead the men’s boxing team consisting of six others: Mohammad Hussamuddin (57 kg), Rohit Tokas (67 kg), Sumit Kundu (75 kg), Ashish Chaudhary (80kg), Sanjeet (92kg). ), and Sagar (92+kg).
Zareen would make her CWG debut in a new weight division after being forced to drop to 50kg following the announcement of new weight classes for the Paris Olympics.
“I had no other choice. It was difficult but not that difficult to get to 50 kg. I just had to lose 2 kg. I would rather lose weight and play in this category than compete in higher weight divisions,” she said.
Justifying her decision not to fight at bantamweight, she said, “My body adapted to play after losing weight. If I play in a higher division (54 kg), it would take more muscle mass, strength and power. “There would also be bigger rivals – and some who come from 60kg. It would be difficult for me to go from flyweight to bantam, so my advantage would be to play in the 50 kg category. Zareen believes his main rivals at the CWG would be hosts England and neighboring Ireland, one of which – Carly McNaul – had lost in the quarterfinals in her weight class at the Worlds in Istanbul.
“She lost to Caroline De Almeida (from Brazil) who I beat in the semi-finals,” said Zareen, who became only the fifth Indian boxer to be crowned world champion earlier in May.
“I never saw his (Carly) match. But I’m taller than her and I’ll try to use my height advantage and play long distance. I work on how to box with different styles of boxers. Zareen will be leaving for a two-week Irish camp in preparation for the Commonwealth Games and hoped to be able to assess more Irish boxers during the stay.
“It will be a good exhibition trip before a big event. Even though we had similar exposure before the World Championships, it helped build our confidence. The Hyderabad pugilist overcame a career-threatening shoulder dislocation in 2017 to come back stronger.
Earlier this year, she became the first Indian boxer to win two gold medals at the coveted Strandja Memorial before becoming world champion.
“I was going through ups and downs and I took the help of a psychologist. Since then, I’ve been working on mental toughness and visualization — winning a medal, hearing the national anthem in the background — which has helped me.