Lovlina Borgohain turns a deeper hue of red than her boxing vest. The question is not very difficult, but it makes her blush and beam. Journalists want to know the significance of her win over Chinese Taipei's Chen Nien-Chin, which assures her of a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
"I know I am assured a medal now. But I want gold. This has been an eight-year-long journey, and there have only been bronze medals in my CV," she said simply.
Lovlina has two bronze medals at the World Championships. Three at the Asian Championships. One each at the Strandja Memorial and the President's Cup.
Lovlina's journey to the Olympics itself has been much more complicated than her path to the semi-finals. She contracted COVID-19 last year, and the ensuing hospitalisation forced her to miss the Indian boxing contingent's 52-day tour of Europe.
Lovlina and the Chinese Taipei boxer's paths have frequently crossed. The Indian does not have good memories of getting into a boxing ring with Chen. In four previous encounters, there have been only defeats, after all.
Friday, though, was different. She had swaggered into the ring with a point to prove. And with a plan: stop thinking, start punching. From the start, she went on the offensive, taking the initiative.
Three rounds of exchanging fire with her opponent later, the Indian boxer left the ring with a hell-raising scream and the chance of making history within punching distance. No Indian boxer has won a silver or gold at the Olympics, with Vijender Singh (Beijing 2008) and Mary Kom (London 2012) both losing in their semis to return with bronze.
"Itna stress nahi liya tha. Accha nahi hota hai (I wasn't thinking too much. It doesn't help in the ring)," the beaming welterweight pugilist told reporters in the mixed zone at the Kokugikan Arena after her win. "Each time I have faced her, I have walked into the ring thinking I will do this and that. Each time it has not worked out for me. So today I told myself, I'm going to go in without too much strategy. I already knew how she boxes. Today, I needed to prove that I can beat her."
And beat her she did, with a slight change in her approach. The one thing she changed for Saturday's game was curbing her natural instinct to sit back and counter-punch.
"Koi strategy nahi tha, there's no point having a strategy. My plan was to go in without cluttering my mind. The idea was to react as per the situation. I was certain I could tackle any situation," she said before adding: "I'm a boxer who liked to sit back and return fire rather than going on the offensive. But on Friday, I flipped the approach to attack from the bell."
The result of the change sees Lovlina on the cusp of history.