Boxing champion MC Mary Kom, also known as ‘Magnificent Mary’ is one of the three Olympic-bound boxers, who will train at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) in Pune. A six-time Olympic winner, Kom will join Lovlina Borgohain (69 kg), who is already at the facility. The other participant is Simranjit Kaur (60kg), who will begin her practice after completing her isolation, post COVID-19 recovery.
ASI Pune has been selected as the centre of training by the Boxing Federation of India, after the national camp for women in New Delhi was shut down, amid rising cases of COVID-19 among boxers and support staff.
Safety is of utmost priority for the federation, which is why these boxers have been placed in three different groups, with two sparring partners.
Kom will also be joined by her coach and former boxer Chhote Lal Yadav at the facility, after he receives a negative test report after recovering from the infection.
"I am leaving today, looking forward to it. Chhote will come in a while so it will be fine. I hope to get vaccinated also during my time there,” she told the media.
Focus on heavy-duty training
"The training went haywire, after the suspension of Delhi camp but, hopefully, it will now get back on track. I might even train with the men boxers who are there at ASI, I routinely train like that to be in good shape," adds Kom.
Presently, her eyes are set on the Asian Championship, which has been relocated from New Delhi to Dubai, amid rising cases in the city. The games will be held from May 21-31, 2021.
"It's a huge competition and one that we desperately need before the Olympics. Training and sparring is one thing, but actual competition is something else. We need to test ourselves in the Asian Championship,” remarks Kom.
Indian women’s boxing’s High-Performance Director Raffaele Bergamasco and head coach Mohammed Ali Qamar were also tested positive for COVID-19.
"With the Asian Championships and the Olympic Games approaching, our focus will be to utilize the time we have in hand and maximize the training for these two events," said Hemanta Kalita, General Secretary, Boxing Federation of India, to the media, adding that the safety of players, coaches and other staff members is of utmost importance.
The ASI camp has received the approval of the Sports Authority of India, and will function until the end of July. The Tokyo Games are scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021.
Apart from the women boxers training for the Olympics, Arundhati Choudhary (69 kg), Manju Rani (48 kg), Sonia Lather (57 kg), Lalbuatsaihi (64 kg), Shashi Chopra (64 kg) and Jasmine (57 kg) have also been picked for the training camp.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)