New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI) As the referee raised Lovlina Borgohain’s hand, the Olympic medallist Assam boxer let out a scream, pent-up emotions finally getting the better of her.
She finally won her maiden World Championships gold after two bronze medals, in her fourth attempt.
After her semifinal win over China's Li Qian, Lovlina had broken her 'bronze medal jinx'. And what better shade of the medal than gold to change the bronze to.
The 25-year-old has won three bronze medals at marquee events, including two at the World Championships and one at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I am happy to win the gold and make India proud,” a relieved Lovlina said after her final bout.
"I had two bronze in Worlds and one in the Olympics. Worked really hard to change the colour. I am ecstatic to have changed the colour,” she said.
"Ups and downs are part of life, but I took these as opportunities and worked hard and I have gold today."
It was also a redemption of sorts after a string of underwhelming performances after the Olympic medal.
Lovlina has had a roller coaster of a year and a half. The Assam boxer, who prefers to keep a low profile, was pushed to the spotlight ever since she won the bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
She had afterwards admitted that she lost focus due the endless felicitations and other commitments outside the boxing ring, which affected her performance. She made an early exit from the last edition of championships in 2022.
Lovlina was at the centre of controversy at the 2022 Commonwealth Games as she alleged that her preparations were getting affected due to the "continuous harassment" of her coaches.
Her personal coach Sandhya Gurung, whom she credits for pulling her out of a difficult mental situation before the Tokyo Olympics, was not allowed to enter the Games Village since she did not have an accreditation.
In the end, Gurung was given an accreditation and also allotted a room in the Games Village. But the result was the same as the World Championship -- an early exit.
Lovlina then bulked herself up from 69kg to 75kg, which became an Olympic category.
She has put in the hard yards to adapt to her new weight class, improving her power punches. And the Assam boxer has been reaping the rewards.
She won the National Games, the Asian Championships and the National Championships before winning gold at the Worlds, her first big medal since the Olympics.
Brought up at Baro Mukhia village of Assam's Golaghat district, Lovlina started out as a kickboxer, following the footsteps of her two elder sisters -- Licha and Lima -- before Sports Authority of India coach Padum Boro, while scouting for talent in Assam's Golaghat district, noticed her.
He introduced her to boxing and she took to it like fish to water. She won bronze on debut at the 2018 World Championship, followed by another bronze a year later.
She became the first boxer from Assam to qualify for Tokyo Olympics.
Lovlina was, however, laid low by COVID-19 in 2020 and missed a training trip to Europe because of the infection.
But, she rose from relative obscurity to create the biggest moment of her career -- winning an Olympic medal -- in 2021.