By Subhro Majumder
From training with an LPG cylinder because of lack of equipment to working in the paddy fields in order to maintain her fitness during the lockdown, before a stint with Covid-19 and the second wave derailing her Olympics preparation, Lovlina Borgohain has punched out numerous odds. The ethos in her commitment can be gauged by her own words as she says “Bhoi asile kintu bhoi korile medal nahe” (you cannot win medals without overcoming your fear).
Lovlina scripted history in her quarterfinal match against former world champion Chen Nien-Chin of Chinese Taipei by securing another medal for India at the Tokyo Olympics. “I don’t take the pressure, I know a billion Indians are praying for me, I am happy I could give them another Olympic medal,” she said after her successful stint. The match made her the third Indian after Vijender Singh and Mary Kom to win a medal in boxing in the Olympic Games.
The Asian Championship hitch
Given the Covid-19 pandemic causing the boxers to not spar for a while even after the camps were reopened, she missed out on her exposure trip – The Asian Championship. The lack of preparation manifested in the ring when she lost her very first bout. The small size of the draw still ensured her a bronze medal.
Her road to Tokyo
Assam’s first female boxer in the Olympics, Lovlina was not the one with the perfect preparation for the Olympics. She had to take a break from her training in February to attend to her mother in Kolkata, who underwent a kidney transplant. After her return, she spent sleepless nights in the Army Sports Institute, hoping for her mother’s swift recovery. “Before going to Tokyo, she promised her mother that she would return with a medal, and she did it,” her father, Tiken Borgohain said.
During last year’s lockdown, when most of her colleagues were in Patiala at the national camp, Lovlina was with her mother and helped her father in the paddy field. As other athletes were spending time on online courses and other indoor activities, she had her focus solely on her game, utilising her time watching videos of her opponents.
Hailed as a dark horse among the big names in boxing, Lovlina prefers to keep things plain and simple. Carrying a billion hopes, the Assamese assassin says that she only dreams of taking it one match at a time.
“At Nationals, even if you win a gold medal, people could forget it. But an Olympic medal is such that if you win one, no one will forget it ever. So that’s my target, to win a medal at the Olympics,” Borgohain said before the games.
A ray of hope
A week ago, Lovlina’s village in Assam’s Golaghat district had no connectivity to the outer world other than a mud and stone track. However, hours after Lovlina’s emphatic display at the Games, a concrete road was connected to it.
Her father, Tiken Borgohain would look back on how a young Lovlina would accompany one of her sisters to Barpathar to learn Muay Thai a decade ago. “It was difficult to imagine, that 3-4 kilometres to Barpathar, all these girls used to pedal all the way, sometimes they would return with bruises, the road was full of pebbles and travelling was a nightmare,” he recalled.
He hopes that things change for the better and that the village and the rest of the country gear up to produce more Lovlina’s in the future.
And Lovlina, now with an Olympic bronze, has the licence to go only higher.
About the author
Subhro Majumder is a Content Writer who is a sports and technology enthusiast. His other varied interests often sway him into reading about history, politics and international relations.