Olympics-Moving up a division is worth the weight for India's Borgohain

Asian Games - Hangzhou 2022

By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain will step onto the scales a bit heavier at the Paris Olympics but feeling like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders.

The 26-year-old is set to compete in the women's 75kg event this summer after the 69kg division, in which she won a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, was scrapped from the Paris programme.

Moving up a division brings her closer to her natural weight range, liberating her from the constant battle to satisfy the scales.

She is even tempted to call it a blessing in disguise.

"Being an athlete, you have to be prepared for any kind of situation," she told Reuters from the north Indian city of Patiala, where she is honing her Olympic preparations.

"I knew I had to adapt to the changes, so moving up to this category was the obvious choice.

"Transitioning to the 75kg (category) has been a good experience. Now I don't need to monitor my weight to the same extent."

While Borgohain does not miss the days of cutting weight to make 69kg, she knows that the punches will hit her harder in the heavier division.

To prepare for that she has been sparring mostly with male boxers from lower weight classes and believes she has transformed into a more attacking boxer.

After winning 75kg world championship gold in New Delhi last year and a silver medal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, Borgohain is optimistic about her chances in Paris.

"I feel confident, and I'm determined to do my best to get a medal in Paris," Borgohain, who is managed by IOS Sports & Entertainment, said.

"This weight class suits my natural body frame and physical attributes much better than the 69kg division.

"No Indian boxer has won more than one Olympic medal so far. I believe I have the skills, experience, and the mindset to change that.

"Becoming the first Indian to win two Olympic boxing medals ... would be a dream come true."

Borgohain was the third Indian boxer to step onto the podium at the Olympics, with both Vijender Singh (2008) and MC Mary Kom (2012) also earning bronze medals.

And while cricket remains a national obsession in India, Borgohain believes winning another medal in Paris would be a big boost for boxing, and sport in general, in her country.

"It will inspire countless young boys and girls across India to take up boxing or any sport and make our country proud through their performances," she said.

"If I can leave a legacy where I have played a role in inspiring younger generations, that would be incredible."

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)