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“I am my own idol…” says Lalenkawli

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

/ Published by VIRTHLI
“I am my own idol... besides me, it's Vijender (Singh),” says 46kg world women's junior boxing champion Lalenkawli.

[caption id="attachment_1942" align="aligncenter" width="580" caption="The seven boxers who won: Lalfakzuali (Silver medal), Lalenkawli (Gold), Nikhat Zareen (Gold), Basumatary Pwilao (Bronze), Poonam (Bronze), Shamjetsabam Sarjubala (Gold) and Basumatary Minu (Gold) AIBA Youth and Junior World women Boxing Championship showing their medals who won the Antalya,Turkey, in New Delhi on Monday. May 02, 2011. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar."][/caption]

The Mizoram-based 15-year-old livewire, who has never met World and Olympic medallist Vijender, was one of the confident bunch of teenaged girls who bagged seven medals, including four golds, in the recently concluded first International Boxing Association (AIBA) women's youth and junior World championship in Antalya, Turkey.

The medals assume significance because of the elevated status of women's boxing after its entry into the Olympics. In the presence of boxers from prominent countries like Russia, China, Kazakhstan and several European nations, the Indian girls showed enough grit and aggression to give a creditable performance.


The haul of two gold [by S. Sarjubala (48kg) and Minu Basumatary (64kg)] and two bronze [Pwilao Basumatary (54kg) and Poonam (60kg)] in the youth competition and two gold [Lalenkawli (46kg) and Nikhat Zareen (50kg)] and a silver [Lalfakzuali (52kg)] in the juniors is a morale-boosting factor as far as the future of the sport is concerned.

“Definitely, these girls hold the future. Even some of the youth medallists can improve a little bit to compete in the London Olympics,” said youth team coach D. Chandralal.

Chandralal considered it a big achievement for the girls, who never had any prior international experience. Junior coach I. Venkateswara Rao said he shared his experience of international events to prepare the girls for the big event.

One of the major challenges for the boxers was to change their style to fetch maximum benefits from the new scoring system, which was introduced in the championship for the first time. They trained for 45 days as per the new system and returned excellent results.

“Our girls were aggressive and won appreciation from other coaches. It was more than any medal. But they have to work on their technique,” said Chandralal.

More aggressive

However, most of the girls thought the previous style was better since it required solid defence and demanded less energy. “The new style is more aggressive and gives big scores. We needed to work harder,” said Sarjubala from Manipur.

Nevertheless, encouraged by her gold medal, Sarjubala said she would try to emulate more prominent boxers from her State — M.C. Mary Kom and L. Sarita Devi.

Hyderabad-based Zareen, who took up boxing to prove that it was not ‘only-for-men' sport, was inspired by the compliments the Indian girls received from other contingents.

For Minu Basumatary, boxing became her passion after she followed in her sister's footprints. Minu, who lost a toe on her right leg due to a freak accident some months back, had all the will power to overcome that episode and prepare herself for the World championship.

“It has not affected my boxing,” said a delighted Minu.

The young pugilists' success story would be incomplete without mention of Geeta Chanu, an international boxer-turned-coach who is employed with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) at Kokrajhar, Assam, on contract.

Geeta, who spends half of her salary on supporting poor boxers, says she is realising her dream.

“I could not get any medal due to the lack of support. Now, I am happy to see my girls (some of the medallists are from her centre) achieving success,” she adds.


~The Hindu
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