Boxing: Lovlina Borgohain wins bronze after losing in semis to world champion

Selvaraj: Lovlina has 'heart' and it's something you can't teach (2:25)

The ESPN.in crew on Lovlina Borgohain's valiant effort in her semi-final loss (2:25)

Lovlina Borgohain finished her Tokyo Olympics campaign with a bronze after losing in the semifinals to reigning World Champion and top seed Busenaz Surmeneli in the women's welterweight division on Wednesday. Lovlina becomes the third Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal, after Vijender Singh (men's middleweight bronze, Beijing 2008) and MC Mary Kom (women's flyweight bronze, London 2012)

This is India's second bronze at this Olympics after PV Sindhu also won a bronze in badminton. India's only other medal at this Olympics came in the form of weightlifter Mirabai Chanu's silver in the 49kg division.

Lovlina, currently the World No. 3, had earlier beaten World No. 2 Chen Nien-Chin of Chinese Taipei 4-1 in the quarterfinals to ensure herself of a medal. Turkey's Surmeneli had won both her previous matches at this Olympics by unanimous decision and she won this match in similar fashion too.

"I worked hard for a gold medal so it is a bit disappointing," Lovlina said after the bout, in which she was docked a point for not paying attention to the referee's instructions and also endured two standing eight counts.

"I could not execute my strategy, she was strong, I thought if I play on the backfoot, I would get hit, so I went on the offensive but it didn't work out as I had thought. I wanted to hit her confidence, but it didn't happen. She was relentless and that was the problem.

"I always wanted to compete in the Olympics and win a medal. I am glad I got a medal but I could have got more," she said. Lovlina also spoke about the sacrifices she had to make in order to win an Olympic medal.

"I have worked for eight years for this medal. I have stayed away from home, not been with my family, not eaten what I would have like to, but I don't think one should do this.

"I would also always feel that anything wrong I do would affect my game," she said. Lovlina also said the she was looking forward to a well-deserved break after her successful outing at the Olympics.

"I will take a break of one month or more may be. I have never gone for a holiday ever since I took up boxing, I haven't decided where I will go but I will definitely take a holiday," she said.

Lovlina had defeated highly-accomplished opponents in her two previous rounds. Chen was a former world champion, while round of 16 opponent Nadine Apetz is also a two-time medalist at the Worlds, winning bronze in 2016 and 2018.

Hailing from the Golaghat district of Assam, Lovlina started as a kickboxer (like her elder twin sisters Licha and Lima Borgohain), before switching to boxing in 2012. She burst into the spotlight after winning bronze at the 2017 Asian Championships and gold at the 2018 India Open.

Lovlina backed up her bronze at the 2018 World Championships with another bronze at the 2019 edition of the tournament.

How did she qualify for Tokyo?

Lovlina secured her Olympic quota, becoming the first woman from Assam to qualify for the Olympics, by entering the semifinals of the Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in March 2020. She won bronze after losing in the semifinals to 2018 World silver medallist Gu Hong of China.

"The priority for us was to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Once I did that, I probably let myself relax a bit, which is why I lost in the semis," she told the Olympic channel at the time.

How was her form coming into Tokyo?

Borgohain tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020, and missed the Indian contingent's boxing trip to Italy in November.

In 2021, Borgohain participated in the Boxam International boxing tournament in Spain, where she lost 0-5 to Russia's Saadat Dalgatova in the quarterfinals.

At this year's Asian Boxing Championships, shifted from New Delhi to Dubai due to the pandemic, from May 24-31, Lovlina won bronze.