Harpal Singh Bedi / New Delhi
Notwithstanding hype surrounding five time champion M.C. Mary Kom ‘s bid for a unprecedented sixth gold at the Women’s World Championships, which opened in New Delhi on Wednesday it will be a herculean task for the hosts to repeat 2006 edition’s showing of eight medals.
Though Mary Kom along with L. Sarita Devi , who won a Gold in 2006, will spearhead ten-member Indian challenge in the 10th edition of the championship, it will be indeed be a miracle if the hosts are able to win four golds a silver and three bronze which they did 12-year ago here.
Indian ‘s foreign coach Raffaele Bergamasco has exuded confidence that experienced and young boxers in his squad will do well but even he was not sure of repeat of 2006.
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The 35-year-old Mary Kom, is tied with Katie Taylor on five gold medals and one more will make her the most successful woman boxer in history since the Irish pugilist has turned a Pro but it is not going to be that easy..
Raffaele compared Mary Com to football legend Maradona saying the Indian is to women’s boxing what Maradona is to football, that is a huge compliment but the coach also realize that it is not going to be easy for “magnificent” Mary.
This year Mary Kom, who will fight in the 48 kg, has claimed a gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, the inaugural India Open and the International Tournament in Poland..
She is also aware that the road to gold will not be easy.“There are boxers who are still playing in my category since 2001. I know them very well. The new boxers are tougher and smarter, they are faster. I will use my experience. The past boxers are more or less the same, I know them,”
“There are boxers who are still playing in my category since 2001. I know them very well. The new boxers are tougher and smarter, they are faster. I will use my experience. The past boxers are more or less the same, I know them,” she said.
Other title/medal hope is . Sarita Devi who will feature in 60kg. She has five Asian titles besides winning gold in 2006 here. The other eight in the team are Pinky Jangra (51 Kg), Manisha Maun (54 Kg), Sonia (57 Kg), Simranjit Kaur (64 Kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69 Kg), Saweety Boora (75 Kg), Bhagyabati Kachari (81 Kg) and Seema Poonia (+81 Kg).
This edition of the championships, set to be the biggest ever with more than 300 participants from 72 countries, will see several Olympic and World Championship medallists battling out for glory.
Italy’s Alessia Mesiano will be defending the featherweight title she won two years ago, while 2016 silver medallists Kaye Scott of Australia, Thai Peamwilai Laopeam, Russia’s Anastasiia Beliakova are gold medal contenders.
Other gold medal contenders include Virginia Fuchs (51 kg) of United States, Lin Yu Ting (54 kg) of Chinese Taipei, Yin Junhua (57 kg) of China, Mira Potkonen (60 kg) of Finland, Gu Hong (69 kg) of China, Nouchka Fontijn (75 kg) of the Netherlands, Wang Lina (81 kg) and defending champion Yang Xiaoli (+81 kg), both from China
With Scotland also making it debut along nine other countries some changes in the women’s boxing landscape is expected .But experts feel that China is likely to emerge overall champion. Italy <Finland the Netherlands are also serious contenders
However the championship is being held in the backdrop of uncertainty surrounding the sport’s uncertain Olympic future in the aftermath of controversial Uzbek businessman Gafur Rakhimov’s election as president.
As it was not enough the build-up to the tournament has been, marred by the controversy of Kosovo boxer Donjeta Sadiku’s participation in the global event.