The recently concluded AIBA World Women’s Youth Boxing Championships held in Guwahati saw Indian pugilists grab five top positions, thus finishing as overall champions.
A minor fire mishap was the only interruption in an evening which saw Nitu, Jyoti Gulia, Sakshi Choudhury, Sashi Chopra and Ankushita Boro win gold medals, causing an Indian sweep in the finals, with Jyoti even qualifying for next year’s Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
Neha Yadav and Anupama picked up bronze apiece, thus rounding off India’s best performance at this event. It turned out to be a double celebration of sorts, as Assam girl Ankushita won the honour of being the best boxer of the tournament.
This medal haul ended India’s gold-drought, which has been prevalent since 2011. Ajay Singh, the President of the Boxing Federation of India, announced a cash prize of ₹ 2 lakh for each gold-medallist. He told PTI, “You are seeing the probable Olympic medalists for India at the Tokyo Olympics here. It has been a fantastic performance, and Guwahati has been a fabulous host.”
One of the four Haryanvi finalists at the event, Nitu, who was pitted against Kazakhstan’s Zhazira Urakbayeva, said, “It was an easier final compared to the semifinals. I did not find it too tough to break through.”
Jyoti’s match against Russian Ekaterina Molchanova was evenly contested, with both boxers matching each other punch for punch, bringing the entire stadium to its feet in the process. The taller Russian was no match for Jyoti, who was granted a unanimous victory.
Similarly, England’s Ivy-Jane Smith was no match for Sakshi Choudhury, despite seeming more dominant. Vietnam’s Ngoc Do Hong lost out to Shashi Chopra, and the last bout saw Ankushita taking on Russia’s Ekaterina Dynnk. The local girl who had just recovered from chicken pox before the tournament, won a hard-fought victory, pushing her to tears.
These victories in the ring for Indian women couldn’t come at a better time. Just recently, the International Olympic Committee mandated an increase in the number of women’s events from three to five, without allowing increased participation or the number of medals on offer. This means that these talented sportswomen, after their hard-fought victory at the AIBA event, will have a chance to add to their medal tally at Tokyo 2020.