"I get stuck at bronze medal every time": Lovlina Borgohain regrets Olympic semi-final loss against Busenaz Surmeneli

Lovlina Borgohain (in blue) in action during her bout
Lovlina Borgohain (in blue) in action during her bout

India's Lovlina Borgohain confirmed a bronze medal finish after bowing out to Turkish boxer Busenaz Surmeneli in the semi-final bout of the women's welterweight category at the Olympics 2021.

The Turkish pugilist is the top-seed in the 64-69kg weight category and the firm favorite to win the top place on the podium. She started the match on the front foot with a relentless attacking strategy. Lovlina Borgohain, despite her best efforts, could not prevent her opponent from taking away the first set 5-0 in a unanimous decision.

The Turkish boxer gained further control over the Indian in the next two rounds. Lovlina even received a warning for trying to attack her opponent below the waist-line, along with a couple of 10-second cool-down breaks from the referee. By the end of the fight, the exhaustion showed in Lovlina's movements.

Surmeneli reigned supreme and Lovlina had to be content with a bronze medal. The dissatisfaction was clearly visible. With dropped shoulders and bowed head, Lovlina walked out of the ring and into the back room.

Speaking to the media after the loss, she said:

"I’ve just lost a match, so not [feeling] that great. I can’t seem to get beyond the bronze. I get stuck at bronze every time. A medal is just a medal, no matter if it is at the Olympics or the world championship. But, it [gold medal] was not to be."

Sharing what went wrong in her semi-final bout against the top-seed, Lovlina said:

"I couldn’t use my strategy. I know that she is strong and will come with an attacking mindset. And if I get defensive in such a situation, then it’ll get worse for me. I wanted to attack only from a safe distance. Sadly, I couldn’t implement that in the match. I wanted to shake her confidence, which I couldn’t. My plan was to hit her as much as she hits me. But she was relentless, and never backed away.”

Lovlina came to Tokyo with plans to take home the Olympic gold. Distraught that she fell short, she added:

“Since the time I started boxing, I have wanted to win an Olympic gold. That was my dream. That is all I have ever wanted. A medal is good but not quite how a gold would’ve felt.”

But Lovlina was quick to acknowledge the work that has been put in by the people around her to help her reach this stage. She thanked her entire team and coaching staff for their efforts.

“I dedicate it to my country. I’m here because of all the people back home only. My team, OGQ, my sponsors, everyone has helped me a lot. Everyone has worked on me. I’m here because of their efforts. Ali sir and the entire team. But, Sandhya Gurung maam has been working with me since the beginning! She has been applying for the Dronacharya award for the past few years. No woman coach from boxing has won it but it is her dream to win that award. So I want to thank her for all that she has done for me.”

Lovlina Borgohain hopes her medal helps young girls

Borgohain becomes the third medal winner for India at the Tokyo Olympics. All three medals so far have been won by female athletes. Lovlina hopes that these medals can inspire a new generation to take up sports and wishes girls are given more opportunities to succeed.

“There is still a lot of disparity between the opportunities given to boys and girls. A lot of the girls miss out on chances because of that. So, I hope these 3 Olympic medals help in improving that. I hope more girls will be given chances.”

Asked what she is taking away as a lesson from these Summer Games, Lovlina said:

"“I’ve learned a lot. I had very little self-belief going into bouts before these Olympics. That has gone now. The fear has gone after competing at the Olympics. I’ve learned to be confident.”

Lovlina plans on taking a long vacation now. It will perhaps be crucial for her to shake-off the semi-final heartbreak and focus on what lies ahead. She has the upcoming Asian Games and Commonwealth Games to look forward to.

From a young girl from a small village in Assam to an Olympic medalist, Lovlina Borghohain has come a long way. When the dust settles, she will realize the magnitude of what she has just done for her country. Given her young age and enormous talent, her dream to win the gold medal at the Olympics can still be a reality in the future.

Also read - India at Olympics 2021

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Edited by SANJAY K K
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