CHENNAI: Boxer Sonia Lather is accustomed to tough blows inside the ring. But 2018 was especially difficult for her. She was in and out of the elite team which saw her miss out on the World Championships in New Delhi. But the 2016 World Championships silver medallist, who has been plying her trade since 2008, knows that is in the past and is hopeful of a better 2019.After winning the women’s nationals in Vijayanagara, the 57 kg pugilist is determined to change her fate. “I wanted to give my best performance. It was an ideal start,” Sonia, who represented Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), said.
She remains cautious, though, having been dealt tough hands in the past. The Haryana girl had won nationals gold in 2018 too. It was a major struggle post that as form evaded her. She was not trusted by selectors for the Commonwealth Games. After winning silver in Ulaanbaatar Cup, Mongolia, she was handed a chance to impress in the Asian Games. But she failed to make that count.
“Chalo bura ke bad accha hi hota hai (after every bad experience, things can only get better). I have learnt something from that. So, I’ll focus on the future and try to make a comeback,” she said.
In Jakarta, the 26-year-old had received direct entry into the quarters but could not progress further. Seeing her display, selectors ignored her for the Worlds. “I felt little hurt then. I did not even get the chance to take part in trials.”
Her replacement Sonia Chahal went on to win silver. That pushed her further down the pecking order. She is aware that she now has to bring her A Game. “I felt stuck then. But I knew I had to remain positive. I can only look ahead and try to get back in the reckoning.”Former champ and RSPB coach Mohammed Ali Qamar, who has worked with Sonia closely, was satisfied with her display during the nationals but admitted that the competition in her category is heating up. Apart from her namesake, former youth world champ Sashi Chopra, whom Sonia beat in the nationals, is also knocking on the door.
“Earlier, the competition was not that tough. Now it is different. There are three, four boxers who are fighting for the main spot. Her journey ahead won’t be easy,” Ali Qamar, a part of the national coaching staff, added. He feels Sonia has to be wiser during training. “She is hard-working and has a sound technique. But she needs to trust the coach’s advice. Sometimes she tends to get carried away during training, spending more time than required.”