It was late night on my side of the globe and early morning of August 12 in India. Switching on the television, I saw Borjhar Airport in Guwahati, Assam, teeming with hundreds of people. A tide of happiness swept across the faces of all those who were eagerly waiting to see their hero walk back home with her head held high. A red carpet welcome awaited Lovlina Borgohain, India’s welterweight boxing champion. She has brought back with her an Olympic bronze medal from Tokyo for her countrymen and her fellow Assamese.
Lovlina’s success is embedded with firsts for Assam
Being from Assam, Lovlina’s triumph is close to my heart. She has carved a niche for herself to be remembered by posterity.
Lovlina is not just the first woman from her state to qualify for the Olympics and claim a victory. She is also the first athlete ever from Assam to win a medal in the prestigious games!
Taking a peek into Lovlina’s boxing world
An Arjuna Award winner, Lovlina first embarked on the path of kickboxing by following in the footsteps of her twin sisters Licha and Lima. They had competed at the national level but did not pursue their careers further. She switched to boxing after her sharp acumen was noticed during the trials held by the Sports Authority of India in her high school playground.
The Commonwealth Games of 2018 marked Lovlina’s major entry into the boxing arena although she lost to Sandy Ryan of the UK. In her list of international accolades are bronze medals from the Asian Boxing Championship in Vietnam and the President’s Cup in Astana in 2017. The following year, she won a silver medal at the Ulaanbaatar Cup in Mongolia and a bronze medal at the 13th International Silesian Championship in Poland.
Lovlina sealed her spot for the Olympics in March 2020. She had a 5-0 win over Maftunakhon Melieva of Uzbekistan in the quarter finals of the Asian Olympic qualifiers.
A few tidbits here and there
An interesting story remains hidden behind Lovlina’s emerging interest in boxing. Her father had once brought home sweets wrapped in a newspaper. It had a picture and a story about Muhammad Ali, and after the article was read out to her, she discovered boxing, which eventually became her destiny.
Staying away from home for 8 years in order to pursue her career, Lovlina has indeed made one of the greatest sacrifices. She has not been able to be with her family in times of crisis. A holiday is what she has in mind now before taking the plunge once again to prepare for the Paris Olympics.
Lovlina believes that along with physical endurance, it is very important to stay sound psychologically. She believes in meditation which helps her keep her mental balance, and she shares that she uses meditation apps and YouTube videos to practice.
The journey ahead…
Lovlina hails from the tiny Baromukhia village of the Golaghat district of Assam. She does not get back home till August 17 as she needs to fly back to Delhi from Guwahati for the Independence Day celebrations.
Engulfed by emotions, Lovlina broke down as she spoke to a news journalist in Guwahati. While extending her heartfelt thanks to the people of Assam for their love and blessings, she expressed her sadness at not being able to fetch the gold. Immersed in the tumultuous, warm welcome given to her, she promised that she would bring a gold medal home from the 2024 Paris Olympics.
A Facebook post I came across had a play of a creative pun in the user’s status. “Lovely- na?” he asked while sharing the news of Lovlina’s victory. She is indeed lovely, making her homeland proud by creating history.
Here’s to wishing her the very best for many more laurels to be heaped in her tower of success!
(This article was also published in Women’s Web )