CHENNAI: August 29: Sarjubala Devi goes down to China’s Yuan Chang 0-5 in the 51kg category. Looking at the bigger picture, it was a sorry result, as Sarjubala was India’s last medal hope in the women’s category at the Asian Games in Jakarta. The defeat also meant Indian women boxers returned home without a medal for the first time in the competition. August 30: Nitu beats Thailand’s Nillada Meekon 4-1 in the women’s lightfly category.
The Haryana girl successfully defends her World Youth title at Budapest. Twenty-four hours later, Sakshi Choudhary brings more joy with a second gold for the Indian team in the featherweight category. Seniors might have found the going tough in Jakarta, but the youngsters continue to deliver. Nitu and Sakshi’s gold meant Indian girls finished with two gold, two silver and four bronze. In fact, they were the numero uno girls’ team ahead of Russia.
Coach Bhasker Bhatt is not surprised by the outcome. “The boxers are strong mentally and they have that hunger to win medals. That’s why they were impressive,” he said. Earlier this year, Nitu had struck gold in the Asian Youth Championship in Bangkok. Apart from her, two more had won gold then. What impressed Bhasker most was Sakshi’s success. The Haryana boxer had struggled earlier. Self-doubts had crept in. While Nitu & Co were outstanding during the Asian meet, Sakshi had finished without a medal. In the following event in Serbia, she could only win bronze. A modest return for a girl with tall ambitions. “After coming back from Serbia, we sat down and worked with her.
The federation (BFI) was supportive. A renowned mental trainer sat with her and spoke to her for two hours,” Bhasker recalled. “That made a huge difference. Those boxers whom she had lost against in Serbia and Bangkok, she beat them with ease. It was a massive step forward for her.” This performance was no fluke as Indian women had won five gold and two bronze medals in the last edition held in India. “We had shown the world what our youngsters are capable of then.
We had left a benchmark,” the 53-year-old said. To live up to that billing, a fitness trainer, mental trainer and yoga instructor were roped in. “Having proven experts gave the boxers a big boost. To have four finalists abroad is a big outcome. And to finish No 1 was a dream result. Our girls proved they have a lot to offer,” Bhasker said. With this inspiring run, Bhasker is confident that they will be vying for a spot in the Olympics in the near future.
“There are many women at the elite level who have been doing well for years. In the near future, these girls will rise to the senior level and make a name for themselves.” While the women had a memorable outing, the youth men had a meagre return of two bronze medals. Nevertheless, G Manoharan, who has coached the likes of Amit Panghal and Vikas Krishan previously, is confident that this lot can replicate the duo’s performance at the elite level. “It’s slow progress but they have promise.” email@example.com India in World Youth Boxing Women | G 2 | S 2 | B 4 Finished as No 1 team Men | G 0 | S 0 | B 2