Indian boxing’s High Performance director Santiago Nieva expects at least three medals from the upcoming Women’s World Championships here and anything more than that according to him will be a “bonus”.
Argentina-born Swede Nieva said his expectation also includes a gold and anything less than that will be a below-par result for the hosts. “I expect atleast three medals, including a gold. We will not be satisfied if we can’t achieve that. Everything more than there medals will be a bonus and great result for us,” Nieva said ahead of the elite International Boxing Association event which will be held in Delhi between November 15 to 24.
Five-time world champion and London Olympics bronze medallist Mary Kom will spearhead India’s 10-member contingent in the World Championships and there is immense pressure on the celebrated Manipuri boxer to add to her tally.
But Nieva said it won’t be easy for Mary Kom to pocket her sixth World Championships gold here, although she remains India’ best bet.
“Everybody expects Mary Kom to win a gold medal but it won’t be easy. She has strong competition, she needs to perform as nobody will give her the gold free. Everybody knows her. She has some pressure but she has done this before and we are confident she can do it again,” he said.
Besides Mary Kom, Nieva expects good performances from some young Indian boxers in the tournament. “Lovelina (Borgohain, 69kg), Manisha (54kg) looked pretty impressive in training sessions but a competition bout is totally different. It is their first World Championship and they are relatively inexperience but they are good boxers,” he said.
Delhi’s air quality under the scanner again
Delhi’s deteriorating air pollution has been hogging the limelight in the run-up to the tournament and Olympic bronze medallist boxer Mira Potkonen expressed concern over the matter, especially hailing from a pollution-free country like Finland.
“I came from a country which has the cleanest air, so it (pollution) is a bit of an issue. But I like the warm weather of Delhi. I knew what to expect as I was here in last January for the India Open Boxing,” Finland’s Potkonen said. “Pollution is a problem but I will have to adjust to that. I won’t go for jogs and try to concentrate on indoor training.”
Potkonen won a bronze medal in the 60kg lightweight category at the 2016 Worlds and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Nieva, on his part, said the capital’s city’s worsening air quality shouldn’t be a problem for the participating nations as boxing is predominantly an indoor sport.
“Nobody wants to play in a city where you feel the difference in breathing but this is a major issue in all big cities of the world. We had that in Beijing Olympics. But, it’s very important for the Indian government to deal with the issue and I think they are trying to do something about it. But there is no quick fix. This is something which will take years to bring it down,” he said.
“For us, it’s not a major issue. I have spoken to boxers of other countries as well and as Mira (Potkonen) said we usually train indoors, we stay inside the hotel, so it’s not that much of an issue,” Nieva added.