CHENNAI: Not long ago, the mood in the women’s boxing camp was sombre. Engulfed by fear and discomfort after several Covid cases in the Delhi camp, the boxers were treading in murky waters. Though their participation in the Asian Championships (starting May 21) is still not cleared (decision likely on Monday), there is some semblance of normalcy being gradually restored with a few elite boxers, including MC Mary Kom, currently training at Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune. They are looking to get some much-needed practice ahead of future challenges. The recent past might have been disturbing, but their spirit remains intact.
Women’s high performance director Raffaele Bergamasco is also back from his hometown of Assisi in Italy after a short break. And he brings back hope along with him. “The situation was tough for everyone. I continued to give them training instructions, which they were following in their respective rooms. I had to adapt to certain situations a bit, but in the end, you have to look at the result, hoping that it will be positive. Now we will look to make up for lost time (recent months), but I’m very optimistic. We will look at the Asian Championships as a test stage for our boxers, both physically and mentally,” said Bergamasco, who is currently undergoing mandatory quarantine at ASI, Pune.
The high performance director himself was one of the several people who had tested positive for Covid during the camp in Delhi. It was naturally a tense moment for everyone. “The country has been hit hard during the second wave of this cursed pandemic. The girls went through a period of turmoil, mixed with fear and discomfort. I have often tried to have a conversation with them, talking not just about the sporting situation but also asking about the family situation.
I will continue to talk about this psychological aspect along with other technical aspects until Tokyo. Staying mentally focused is vital for the final result,” he said. With just a few days left for the Asian Championships to begin, it’s still not certain if the team will be part of the event due to travel restrictions. The continental event, which was originally supposed to be held in Delhi, was recently shifted to the UAE due to the ongoing pandemic.
The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) is looking to ensure that the boxers are part of the event. If they miss that boat, though, it’s going to be a tough road ahead for the Indians as they will miss out on a chance to test where they stand ahead of the Olympics. But Bergamasco is not too concerned about that for now. “All of them, not just Mary, have had little competition this time, but they have experience on their side. From tomorrow (Monday), Simranjit (Kaur), after completing some tests, will join the group and we will work for the Asian Championships.”
Arundhati to assist Lovlina
Mary (51 kg), Simranjit (64 kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69 kg), Manju Rani (48 kg) and youth world champion Arundhati Choudhary (69 kg) are currently in Pune. The rest of the team named for the Asian Championships are currently training at their respective homes. Arundhati will assist Lovlina.