Wanted to do well in Asian Championships with eye on Tokyo Olympics, says Pooja Rani

·4-min read
Pooja Rani celebrates after winning gold at Asian C'ships (Photo/ BFI)
Pooja Rani celebrates after winning gold at Asian C'ships (Photo/ BFI)

By Vishesh Roy

New Delhi [India], June 10 (ANI): India boxer Pooja Rani is not happy with just winning gold at the recently concluded Asian Boxing Championships. The boxer has set her sights on the upcoming Olympics and is leaving no stone unturned to attain the ultimate glory.

Pooja (75kg) had successfully defended her title at the 2021 Asian Boxing Championships. She had outpunched in-form Mavluda Movlonova to hand India its first gold at the championships.

In an interaction with ANI, Pooja opened up on her preparation for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, how she sees her potential opponents at the Games and she also spoke about how the Indian boxing contingent can win more medals at the Olympics.

"Before the Asian Championships, we all were mentally down because people around us were testing positive for Covid-19. Then we went to Pune for a camp, our coach then told us not to think about the Asian Championships and focus on the Olympics. But I feel once you lose in a tournament, you do feel a little down. So I always thought that I have to perform well at the Asian Championships. I did not know that many countries would not turn up for the tournament because of Covid-19," said Pooja.

"I thought that there would be some competition. When I went to participate in Asian Championships, I saw very few boxers turning up for the event. In my weight category, there were four girls and in the semi-final bout, I had to take on a boxer from Mongolia, but she gave me a walkover. My weight category was tough, and in the end, I managed to win the gold medal," added the 30-year-old.

Pooja rallied behind the likes of Amit Panghal, Mary Kom, and Vikas Yadav to say that the Indian boxing contingent has a good chance to win a good number of medals at the upcoming Tokyo Games.

"Amit Panghal is the number one boxer and he has been performing well. Mary Kom always does well, Mary the great, we have other senior boxers as well like Vikas Yadav. I think this time around, we have a good team going for the Olympics, I think we would win a good number of medals at the Tokyo Games," said Pooja.

When asked whether the Asian Championships was the best possible preparation before the Tokyo Games, Pooja said: "In all the competitions we play, we fight it out against the best boxers around the world. We gain experience and exposure, before this, we went to Spain as well. We were slated to go to Serbia, we were supposed to train there as well and we were to play a tournament there as well. But because of Covid-19, we could not go there. But at least we got Asian Championships, and it was okay."

"Earlier, my first round used to go a bit haywire while competing. But I did take notice of that and in the Asian Championships, I decided to go for the kill from the first round. Earlier, my first round wouldn't go well and I used to make up for it in the second and third round. But this time around, I noticed what was going wrong and I rectified it in the Asian Championships," she added.

At the Asian Championships, defending champion Amit Panghal put up a great fight against the world champion in his summit clash but it was not enough for the Indian to go past the Uzbek boxer as he suffered a narrow 2-3 defeat. India also lodged a protest and contested the round two decision of the split verdict. But the protest lodged by the Indian team had not been accepted by the Jury Commission and Panghal had to settle for a silver medal.

Talking about the scoring system in boxing, Pooja said: "I should not be saying this right now, but the scoring system (10-9) which we have right now, I really do not like it. Maximum bouts end up having a split decision. In Sakshi's bout, one day she won, but the other day she ended up losing as the opponents lodged a protest on the basis of just one round. If we had the older scoring system, I do not think this problem would arise."

When asked whether bio-bubbles can have adverse impacts on the athletes, Pooja said: "Earlier, I used to think that I should be allowed to go outside because people around me were not testing positive for Covid-19. But when we saw, our boxers and coaches started testing positive for Covid-19, we realised the importance of following the precautions and I do not feel the need to go outside." (ANI)

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