Mary Kom, Sarita spearhead Indian challenge at women's boxing Worlds
Veteran Indian stars M.C. Mary Kom and Laishram Sarita Devi will spearhead the Indian campaign when the women's World Boxing Championships start here on Thursday.
Both boxers are strong contenders for the gold in their respective weight categories in what is possibly the last world championships of both their careers.
With both boxers eyeing medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the upcoming tournament will be crucial.
Five-time world champion Mary will compete in the 48 kilogram category at the November 15-24 event.
Although she is the favourite for a sixth world title, the 35-year-old Manipuri warned that competition will be tough.
"Home advantage will be a factor that will help us. But it is going to be very tough. All our boxers will be up against tough opponents from the first round itself. We will have to be at our best," she said.
Sarita will compete in her usual 60 kg division. The four-time Asian champion had won the world title in the 52 kg category way back in 2006 and will be hoping for an encore in the twilight of an illustrious career.
"I have trained really hard and I am definitely expecting a medal. This tournament is extremely important for me and I want to win at any cost," Sarita told IANS.
When the event was last held in the capital in 2006, India had finished as the top nation with four gold, three silver and one bronze.
For a similar result this time around, the other Indian boxers will have to step up and be counted.
Former World Cup silver medallist Simranjit Kaur, who competes in the 64 kg division, is expected to be more prominent among them.
Lovlina Borgohain (69 Kg) and Saweety Boora (75 Kg) are also expected to put up a strong fight for medals.
The experienced Pinky Jangra is also a strong contender in the 51 Kg class and is expected to get a medal.
Indian squad: Mary Kom (48 Kg), Pinky Jangra (51 Kg), Manisha Maun (54 Kg), Sonia (57 Kg), L Sarita Devi (60 Kg), Simranjit Kaur (64 Kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69 Kg), Saweety Boora (75 Kg), Bhagyabati Kachari (81 Kg) and Seema Poonia (+81 Kg).-IANS