The 23-year-old Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) defeated German pugilist Nadine Apetz in a closely fought round-of-16 match at the Kokugikan Arena on Tuesday.
On an otherwise disappointing day for India at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, Lovlina gave the 1.3 billion people at home something to cheer about. The first woman boxer from Assam moved into the quarter-final stage with a 3-2 win in the Women's Welterweight division (64 to 69kg) against the veteran boxer from Germany. Both the boxers were making their debut appearances in the Olympics. However, Lovlina is 12 years younger than her German opponent.
Lovlina Was At Her Counter-Attacking Best
Lovlina, in blue, started slowly against Apetz but gained her footing on to the match, throwing some well-timed right jabs at her opponent in red. Three of the five judges believed Lovlina was better than Apetz in the first round. In the second round, Lovlina was more dominant. The third round saw Lovlina at her tactical best when Apetz was under severe pressure. Borgohain's left hooks helped her keep the slender lead, and she eventually clinched the quarter-final spot.
The 35-year-old Nadine Apetz was the first German woman to qualify for a boxing event at the Olympics. Interestingly, she is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience which she put on hold to prepare for the Olympics, according to The Times of India. Apetz is also a two-time world championship bronze medallist and a former European champion.
Lovlina Shot To Fame in 2017
Lovlina Borgohain, on the other hand, is a two-times World and Asian Championship bronze-medallist. Lovlina was the first woman from Assam to qualify for the Olympics. She came to the limelight in 2017 when she clinched a bronze medal at the Asian Boxing Championships in the Women's Welterweight category. She followed it up with another stellar performance at the President's Cup held at Astana, Kazakhstan. Hailing from the Golaghat district of Assam, the boxer's most significant break came when she qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Still, unfortunately, she had to exit from the quarter-final stage, losing to the UK's Sandy Ryan. Lovlina also bagged a bronze medal at the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championship, held in New Delhi in November 2018.
Two years later, in March 2020, Lovlina sealed her Olympics spot by defeating Uzbekistan's Maftunakhon Melieva in the quarter-final stage of the Asian Olympic qualifiers. She became the first-ever sportswoman from Assam to qualify for the quadrennial mega event.
Tough Task Ahead
On Tuesday, the Indian boxer became the first from her nine-strong team to reach the quarter-final stage in this year's Games. The 23-year-old is now just a win away from securing a medal for India in boxing. Regardless of what happens in the semis, she will get a podium finish. However, Borgohain will face the former world champion and 4th seeded Chinese Taipei pugilist Chen Nien-Chin in the quarter-final match scheduled for July 30.