Boxer Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) assured India its second medal at Tokyo Olympics by beating Chinese Taipei's Nien-Chin Chen in their quarter-final bout on Friday. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu opened India's account by claiming the silver medal in the women's 49kg category on Saturday.
The 23-year-old from Assam prevailed 4-1 to make the last-four where she will square off against reigning world champion Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey. Surmeneli hammered Anna Lysenko in their quarter-final bout.
Moments after the win, Borgohain said that she "had no strategy today. Lost to her four times and hence this was a grudge match. I am happy that I pulled it off. I am not celebrating this win I want to win the gold."
Borgohain, a two-time world championship bronze medallist, displayed tremendous calm in the face of a plucky opponent, who had beaten her in the past.
BFI President Ajay Singh said, "It’s a news that we all were eagerly waiting to hear. This is a proud moment not just for boxing but also for Assam and for the entire country. It was a very courageous effort by Lovlina, indeed. She was down with covid last year and was admitted to the hospital. Her mother too was going through a life-threatening ailment."
"But Lovlina is a born fighter. This is a huge milestone for Indian boxing and the way this young girl has proved herself makes us all proud. We at BFI would like to congratulate her on this achievement. This is also a testament to the process that we followed in the last four years. However, as I said to Lovlina today, this is just a start. She needs to plan carefully and ensure she wins gold for India. Lovlina is symbolic of a young, new and fearless India. I am sure that young boxers like her will ensure many more Olympic medals in the future.”
She was aggressive to start with, followed it up with a tremendous counter-attacking game and kept her defence tight in the final three minutes to emerge triumphant.
The youngster, who was laid low by COVID-19 last year and missed a training trip to Europe because of it, let out a huge scream after the referee raised her hand, pent-up emotions finally getting the better of her.
India's previous boxing medals have come through Vijender Singh (2008) and M C Mary Kom (2012). Both of them had won bronze medals and Borgohain would look to better that.
Earlier, Simranjit Kaur (60kg) lost to Thailand's Sudaporn Seesondee in the pre-quarterfinals to make an early exit from the Games here.
The 26-year-old Indian, seeded fourth, went down 0-5 despite a gritty performance.
She was impressive in the opening round and seemed to have caught Seesondee on the back-foot with her measured approach, sticking to a counter-attacking strategy.
However, the judges ruled unanimously in favour of the Thai, causing Simranjit to be a tad reckless in the second round.
The Indian paid for the hyper-aggressive approach in the first few seconds itself when Seesondee managed to connect some eye-catching left hooks.
The defensive errors in the second put paid to Simranjit's chances and even though she gave it her all in the third round, it needed nothing short of a demolition job to get over the line.
However, that was not to be as she bowed out following a unanimous verdict.
The 29-year-old Thai is a two-time world championships medallist and also won a silver in the 2018 Asian Games.
(With PTI inputs)