Lovlina Borgohain punching up against odds | Tokyo Olympics News

Assam’s first Olympic boxer Lovlina is making up for lost time due to mother’s transplant & the pandemic to shine at her first games outing
The past few months have been tough for Lovlina Borgohain.
The first female boxer from Assam to qualify for Olympics haven’t had what most would term as the perfect preparation that one would expect to have had before the quadrennial event. Even as the others trained hard, Lovlina had to take a break and fly down to Kolkata in February as her mother underwent a kidney transplant at a private hospital in the city.
“She was very worried about her mother and was as far away as possible from boxing for those few days. She left just after the surgery and have been focussed on her training since then. But despite the tough schedule, she calls up every day to ask about her mother,” Lovlina’s father Tiken Borgohain said over the phone from his home in Assam.
Even as Lovlina got back into the training fold, there was another crisis waiting to happen.
This time the second Covid wave hit the country and 21 tested positive for the dreaded virus at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium where the women boxers were training. Although the Olympic-bound athletes weren’t infected, the coaching staff wasn’t so lucky. Among those who contracted the virus were Indian women’s boxing High Performance Director Raffaele Bergamasco and head coach Mohammed Ali Qamar.
“It was a very difficult time as training had to be stopped once again. Everyone who tested positive had to be quarantined and the Olympic-bound boxers, including Lovlina, had to train on their own inside their hotel rooms,” said Qamar from Assisi in Italy where the boxers are undergoing training since the third week of June.
It wasn’t the first time though that Lovlina had to train alone. When the pandemic first started, Lovlina, like many others, trained for months on her own at her home in Baramukhia, Assam, and was guided by the coaches through online videos.
“The coaches are holding video conferences with us every day. They have already given us schedules for mornings and evenings. I make a video of that training and send it to them,” Lovlina had told TOI in an interview last year.
However, training alone is never the same as training as a unit and sparring with the other boxers.
Hence, once the camp started after the lockdown last year, the coaches got down to preparing them for what awaited them in Tokyo and Qamar was quite pleased with the improvement. Sadly, the second wave was a knockout blow.
The lapse in training resulted in drop in form among the boxers and Qamar believes that had the break not taken place, the boxers would have fared even better in the Asian Championships where they won a total of 15 medals, including two gold.
Despite the challenges, things are looking up once again as the nine Olympic-bound boxers are preparing themselves in the Italian hill town. They have been sweating it out for two hours every day and have been sparring thrice a week with other Oly-qualified pugilists from other countries.
“Sparring is the most important thing for a boxer. They can do physical exercises on their own to keep themselves in shape but that is not enough,” said Qamar, who was the first to win a Commonwealth Games medal in boxing from India. “Here, there are boxers from Colombia, Italy, France, Panama, Finland, Poland, Ecuador and Croatia and it’s the best way to prepare before the Games.”
Speaking of Lovlina – competing in the women’s 69kg event – Qamar sounded very pleased with her improvement. “She has worked very hard on increasing her strength and her improvement is there for everyone to see. She has kept winning medals in all the major tournaments and it’s expected that she will do quite well in Tokyo,” said Qamar.
Another coach who has been with Lovlina through thick and thin and someone she gives a lot of credit to for her improvement is Sandhya Gurung and she, too, is more than happy with how she has been preparing herself and expects good things from the boxer.
And rightly so! It’s the first time that as many as nine boxers have made the cut for the Olympics and everyone expects them to bring home more than one medal. On the other hand, one also needs to remember that this will be the strangest Olympics with no fans, strict restrictions and a lot of social distancing.
“Lovlina, however, isn’t too worried about these things and is focussed on her job at hand,” said her proud father.
“To tackle the situation better, the boxers also get tips from a psychological trainer and have online sessions on a regular basis,” said coach Qamar.
While it’s easy to get distracted, Lovlina knows what’s at stake. It’s after all what she has been training for all these years. It’s a special Olympics and she is geared up to make it special for her and the country.

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