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Paris Olympics Quota Missed, Nitu Ghanghas Has Sights Set On Los Angeles 2028

A World and Commonwealth Games champion in the 48kg division, Nitu Ghanghas is eyeing a 54kg medal at the World Championships in Astana in October

File photo of Indian boxer Nitu Ghanghas. Photo: X/IBA_Boxing

She could not make it to Paris 2024, but Nitu Ghanghas still has the Olympic dream alive and burning. The Haryana boxer is training at the Bhiwani Boxing Club, with sights set on the Los Angeles Olympics in July 2028. (More Sports News)

The 23-year-old Nitu, who is a world champion in the 48kg class, could not make it to the Paris Olympics in the 54kg division, a weight category where she is building more power and honing her skills to augment her arsenal.

The Mary Kom supporter is touted as a potential successor to the Manipur boxing legend and despite missing the Hangzhou Asian Games and Paris 2024, Nitu is determined instead of being heartbroken.

In the latest episode of the Fit India Champions podcast, Nitu told series host Ekta Vishnoi: “From childhood I have always wanted to win, battled many odds and disappointments and came out on top with my family’s help. I am already looking forward now.”

To seal her spot at the Asian Games and Paris Olympics, Nitu, adept in the 48kg class, had to upgrade herself to 54kg but it was Preeti Pawar who upstaged her and made the Hangzhou 2023 squad. Preeti also grabbed a Paris quota with a strong display at the Continental Games. She thus joined Nikhat Zareen (50kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (75kg) who had already made the Paris Games cut.

“I think all three of them can return with a medal from Paris. They are all capable fighters and have gained a lot of experience. As far as I am concerned, I will take it step by step as I get better and stronger in the 54kg division," said Nitu, the 2023 World and Commonwealth Games champion.

"My immediate target is the World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan in October this year and my coach Jagdish Singh is prepping me for it. I am confident that I have the mettle to make it to Los Angeles Olympics in 2028,” she added.

“I am from Bhiwani Boxing Club and I have a legacy to take forward. Vijender Singh’s Beijing Olympics was a massive trigger for girls like us to play boxing.

"In our village (Dhanana), it was unthinkable for a girl to play sport. But it was my father (Jai Bhagawan) who backed me regardless of the fact that even our closest relatives thought we were crazy because I was going to take up boxing,” Nitu revealed, adding that her family faced severe financial crisis when she was learning the ropes of boxing in Bhiwani.

Having excelled in the 48kg class, a weight division that once exclusively belonged to London Olympics (51kg) bronze medallist Mary Kom, Nitu wants to emulate her idol.

“I grew up seeing her and it was my dream to fight Mary didi. That opportunity did come (Commonwealth Games 2022 trials) but Mary Kom had to withdraw due to a knee injury after a minute into the opening round. I really wanted a full fight, so it was a bit disappointing,” said Nitu, who is a southpaw like Mary. Nitu went on to win the Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham.

Nitu, with age on her side and known for her aggressive style, remains one of India’s top women boxers. With more exposure and rigorous training, the Haryana pugilist could storm into the limelight again after the Paris Olympics.

A flagship programme of the ministry of youth affairs and sports, the Fit India Mission is an endeavour to spread the virtues of physical and mental wellness. The ‘Fit India Champions’ podcast series is aimed at spreading the good words through conversations with athletes and health influencers who are acting as catalysts for change.