CHENNAI: Next month, all eyes will be on the Indian women pugilists as they face their biggest test after two years, the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships at home from November 15 to 24. In the previous edition, just Sonia Lather had won a medal. It was a lean period for MC Mary Kom & Co then. The future looked bleak. The fact that nobody managed to earn a place in the Rio Olympics showed they had a lot of answering to do.
Fast forward now, all those old doubts seem to have vanished. After making steady progress, the boxers have renewed hopes and they have been training at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi for some time. One man who has played a key role in bringing a fresh breath of air is Raffaele Bergamasco, the performance director for women’s boxing. The Italian was the real force behind the youth women’s dominant show in Guwahati last year. He is aware it will be difficult to replicate that performance but has full faith in the talent.
“We have a good prospect for medals. But it’s going to be a stiff test. I think in home conditions, the boxers will get that added motivation to give their best and hopefully, we can return with as many medals as possible.” The easy-going coach, associated with India for over a year, is encouraged by his wards. “It’s a step by step process. I have been methodically trying to implement my ideas. It’s not easy as it takes time. But the boxers have been receptive and have been trying to follow what I have been trying to bring to their game,” he said.
One name that springs to mind while discussing this event is Mary, who will be eyeing her sixth gold. Bergamasco has been looking to strike a balance between youth and experience and feels that will be the ideal scenario going into big-ticket events. The coach was all praise for the London Olympics bronze winner. “She has always been a great boxer. She is confident and has been undergoing quality training.” The Manipur veteran has been in the rich vein of form this year with three gold (India Open, CWG & Poland International).
Taking a closer look at young promise, Bergamasco expects big things from Manisha (54 kg). Manisha had displayed plenty of grit during her silver medal showing in an international meet in Poland last month. “She is a bright youngster, has all the qualities to make it big in the near future. She might lack experience, but she can surely pull off a surprise this time.”
Given the importance of this upcoming event, Bergamasco has been joined by Santiago Nieva, the men’s high performance director, in the camp. Nieva revealed that he will be bringing a training expert. “A Swedish training expert, who has worked with me for many years, will be joining us on Monday. He usually helps me train the men’s team. It will be a big boost as he will help the women’s team with the training and planning, all those small details which could make a massive difference,” Nieva said.