She had the time of her life in Tokyo with a medal on Olympic debut being the icing on the cake but Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain says all of it is “done and dusted now” and she will start afresh in every aspect of her game for the Paris edition in 2024.
In an exclusive interview to PTI, Borgohain, who clinched the welterweight (69kg) bronze, spoke about the hardships she endured to get where she is, the joy of watching the triumph of human spirit at the Games and how her regular life now becomes much more eventful thanks to overnight fame.
The 23-year-old from the tiny Baro Mukhia village of Assam’s Golaghat district became only the third Indian boxer to finish on the Olympic podium, joining two of the biggest icons in Indian boxing — six-time world champion M C Mary Kom and the very decorated Vijender Singh.
She had vowed to touch upon her sacrifices only after her campaign was over and she did exactly that.
“My first sacrifice was to stay away from my home for the past eight years and not being there for my family in times of their problems and watching from a distance. This is the biggest sacrifice,” she said.
“Personally, I have sacrificed some desires that youngsters like me would have. For example not eating things that so many others of my age eat (fast food), I wouldn’t take leave from training to concentrate on the game. And this continued for eight years,” she revealed.
She does plan to take a holiday now that the job is done before getting down to prepare herself for a better medal in Paris in three years from now.
“This Olympics is done and dusted. I will have to start afresh in every aspect, not just one,” she said, when asked what changes she would make to her technique after the Tokyo campaign.
Would those changes include additional strength in her punches, which despite being accurate, seemed to be slightly low on power, especially in the semifinal loss to reigning world and now Olympic champion Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey?
“It is not like strength and conditioning hasn’t been worked on. It was being done. You can say it was not up to the level of what it should have been ideally. I could work on my strength and conditioning only in the last four months of what was a four-year cycle.
“I was benefitted by the work but for something as big as Olympics, four months is not enough. Uss se kuch nahi hota, you need such work in a four-year cycle,” she explained.
Borgohain defeated former world champion Nien-Chin Chen in the quarterfinals to reach the semi-final and with that triumph, she also beat the fear, which she experienced previously before stepping into the ring.
The pent up emotions finally came out in the form of an ear-splitting scream when her hand was raised by the referee.
“For so many years, several emotions were just inside me, I had internalised them. But in this Olympics, when I realised the support that I was getting from the country every time I was stepping in the ring and landing any punch, that scream was an ode to that support and emotion,” she explained.
“It was an expression of my own pent up emotions and also an ode to the support that I got,” the youngster said.
The quarterfinal win was one of the two special memories that, Borgohain said, will remain with her for the rest of her life.