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Lovlina Borgohain’s mindset: At Tokyo Olympics 2020, bronze won, but gold medal lost

·3 min read

When was the last time you heard that an Indian athlete was disappointed after winning an Olympic bronze medal?

Meet Lovlina Borgohain. Bronze medallist in the women's 69kg weight class at Tokyo 2020. The third boxer from India to ever medal at the Games. The second woman boxer ever to bring home a medal from an Olympics. Unhappy with third place.

"Abhi haarke aayi hoon. Accha toh bilkul nahi lag raha (I've just lost. So, I'm not really happy)," Borgohain tells journalists moments after losing her semi-final to Busenaz Surmeneli, which ensures her bronze medal since in boxing both losing semi-finalists get the medal. "I've had to settle for bronze medal each time in my career. Kharab lag raha hai bahut (So, I'm feeling terrible)."

She's referring to the bronze medals she has won at the World Championships (twice) and the Asian Championships (thrice). But this one's an Olympic bronze medal, you try pointing out to an athlete with a freshly bruised ego.

"Mehnat gold medal ke liye kiya tha. Kharab lag raha hai. (I worked hard for gold. So, I'm feeling bad). I was sure that this time I will take home gold from the Olympics," she retorts.

Eventually, after much prodding, she relents that an Olympic bronze medal is not the worst thing to happen to her.

"Ever since I began boxing it has been my dream to win an Olympic gold. I trained and spent every moment towards this goal. It feels good that I have a medal but I could not achieve what I set out to do."

Someone wants to know if Borgohain, the first woman from the state of Assam to compete at the Games, has a message to give young girls from northeast India.

"Message? What message do I give right now. I just lost," she says, unwittingly conveying that she would rather be put on pedestal after having gold, not after settling for bronze.

Her strategy going into the match against the Turkish boxer was simple. Take two punches, give two punches back.

"I knew she's strong. I knew I would get punched. But she just didn't back down in the bout," is the Indian boxer's simple analysis.

At every press conference and every mixed zone interview at the Tokyo Olympics, Indian journalists tend to ask one simple question to athletes or coaches who have just tasted defeat: what have these Olympics taught you?

Their answers tell you much more about the character of that athlete than even an autobiography can.

"I was not self-confident earlier getting into the boxing ring. When I got into the ring, I was scared. Now it's not like that. After so many competitions I have no fear. I'm much more confident now," she says.

"Everyone says it takes four years of hard work to make it to the Olympics," continues Borgohain. "For me, it's been over eight years. I've been on this journey since 2012."

This journey she speaks of saw her stay away from her family for years. It meant meeting her mother just for a handful of days when she was in the hospital recovering from a kidney transplant operation. It meant staying away from things she craved to eat. Steering clear from things she wanted to do.

Vacation? What's that?

The road to a medal €" even a bronze one €" at the Olympics is paved with hard choices.

But now that cycle is completed.

"I don't remember ever having gone on a vacation," says Borgohain when asked what next. "I will now take a month or two off. Take a vacation. Travel, maybe."

"Where?" you ask an athlete, who has spent nearly a decade following meticulously-planned daily routines.

No clue, she says.

Also See: Tokyo Olympics 2020: 'Proud of her', 'Go for gold', Twitter salutes Lovlina Borgohain as boxer assures medal

Tokyo Olympics 2020: BFI president Ajay Singh rules out 'knee jerk' reactions to mixed bag performance from boxers

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Clutter-free approach helps Lovlina Borgohain punch ticket to semis, takes aim at gold

Read more on Sports by Firstpost.

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