Good chance of podium finish at Tokyo, says upbeat boxer Pooja Rani

Express News Service

BENGALURU: After winning a gold medal at the Asian Championships last month in Dubai, Indian boxer Pooja Rani (75 kg) made some last-minute changes in her plans. She decided to spend some time with her family members soon after that trip.

But after two days at home, the 30-year-old got back to business, returning to the Army Sports Institute in Pune with focus on the Olympics.

With the marquee event on the horizon, Rani is aware of the major competitors she could face in her weight category at Tokyo. Hence, she is spending some decent amount of time analysing videos of her rivals, their style of boxing.

To add to her preparations, Rani is hopeful that the boxers can go for an exposure tour, a tour that the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has been trying to get for its boxers, soon.

“One of the main reasons why we want this trip is that we do not have many good sparring partners (here in India). When we spar with quality boxers from countries like Italy, France and others, it will help us in preparations. Boxers from Europe are going to be my tough competitors in the Olympics,” Pooja told
The New Indian Express in a virtual interaction on Wednesday.

Pooja has made winning a habit in recent times. But Tokyo is bound to be a different beast to tame. However, the Haryana pugilist is optimistic about her chances. “I feel that I can get to the podium, and for that training is important. It (training) is going well,” said Rani, who also believes her experience could play a big factor in her quest for a medal.

This new-found confidence comes after setbacks in the past. After failing to make the cut for the Rio Olympics, she had accidentally burnt her hand while bursting firecrackers during Diwali in 2016. To add to her woes, she also had shoulder troubles the very next year, something that placed her in the shadows
for a few years.

Moreover, she also had to make weight adjustments as she shifted from 81 kg category to 75 kg. After initial hurdles, she is in a good place now. “When I shifted to 75, initially it was tough as I did not have much time to adjust to the shift in weight category as well. Slowly, I started featuring in competitions and with experience, I got better and got some results,” she said.

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