Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen will likely be a force to reckon with at the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2022 (CWG 2022). The newly crowned world champion is hungry for more laurels as she embarks on a mission to emulate all records at the prestigious event in her debut appearance.
Along with Nikhat Zareen, the Indian women’s boxing team for CWG 2022 also includes Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (70kg). 2021 Asian youth bronze medallist Jasmine (60kg) and Nitu, a two-time former youth world champion, have made the cut as well.
While Zareen is focused on making the right moves in the ring, she has also been mentally preparing for the big event. The 26-year-old has advocated the need for an exemplary mental training schedule for all athletes. She has also ensured that she tackles all the ups and downs she faces with the help of a sports psychologist.
The sports psychologist has been actively working with Nikhat Zareen, helping her with various techniques, including visualization. In response to Sportskeeda's query, Zareen said:
"I was going through ups and downs and took help from a sports psychologist. Since then I’m working on my mental strength, visualizing winning medals and hearing the National Anthem in the background as I stand on the podium. This technique has definitely helped me.
It all started when she was down with an injury. The boxer explained:
"When I dislocated my shoulder, I was going through a lot of ups and downs at the time. I then took help from my psychologist. She advised me to negate all negative thoughts by ignoring them, taking long walks and focussing only on positive things."
Nikhat Zareen was then introduced to visualizing, which has given her a massive helping hand.
"I think visualization has helped me to improve myself not only as a boxer but also as a human being. Because of that, during the World Championships, when playing against experienced boxers that I visualized winning and it helped me," she said.
Zareen is keen not to take any pressure and perform at the best of her abilities at CWG 2022 and future tournaments.
"I think these techniques have helped me do well in all my competitions. Hopefully, I'll keep continuing the same and try not to put any pressure on myself and just focus only on being calm and composed," she added.
Nikhat Zareen expects a rich haul from CWG 2022
Nikhat Zareen will make her Commonwealth Games debut in the 50kg category, a new weight division. The boxer from Telangana made the change after the new weight categories for the Paris Olympics were announced. She explained:
"I didn’t have any other option. It was difficult but not that tough to come to 50kg. I just had to lose 2kg. I prefer losing weight and playing in that category rather than competing in higher weight divisions. My body has adapted to play after losing weight."
"If I play in a higher (54kg) division, it would need more muscle mass, strength and power. Also there would be taller rivals — and some who have come from 60kg. It would be tough for me to move to bantam from flyweight, so my advantage would be to play in the 50kg category."
The Indian boxing contingent had their best-ever Commonwealth Games sojourn in the 2018 edition at Gold Coast. Mary Kom then became the first Indian female boxer to win the gold medal. India finished the 2018 edition with a haul of three golds, three silvers and three bronze medals.
Nikhat Zareen concluded by speaking about her hunger to capture a medal at CWG 2022:
"We’re all experienced boxers. We have World Championship medallists and Olympians. I hope every one gets gold! I still have the same hunger to win a medal for the country, I’m still hungry."
The 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place from July 28 to August 8.