New DelhiDealing with “mental pressure” at the highest level is something Indian athletes miss, according to reigning world champion boxer Nikhat Zareenwho believes specialized training should be provided to overcome this hurdle in big-ticket events.
Indian athletes tend to perform well at regular events but falter on the big stage like the Olympics or the World Championships.
“Our Indian boxers are very talented, we are no less than anyone. We have strength, speed and power… everything,” Zareen said when asked where the Indian boxers are missing.
“It’s just that once you get to that (world) level, boxers have to be trained to deal with the mental pressure.
“Once you get to the big platforms, a lot of athletes get nervous, they are unable to perform,” added Zareen, speaking during an interaction hosted by the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC).
Zareen, who was crowned the world champion in the flyweight event last month, has also sealed a berth for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, which start on July 28.
Much has been said about how Zareen, who comes from an Orthodox society, had to overcome societal prejudices to make a career in boxing. But the 25-year-old made it clear that she is not fighting for any particular community, she is fighting and winning for India.
“As an athlete I am here to represent India. For me the Hindu-Muslim doesn’t matter. I do not represent a community but my country. Happy to win a medal for my country.”
Zareen has been waiting a long time for an opportunity in the flyweight category that veteran Indian boxer MC Mary Kom has made her own, but the Telengana fighter feels the wait has increased her hunger to do it right.
“Not only for me, but also for other boxers in that category, they also wanted a chance. But you have to prove yourself and I did that by becoming world champion.
“If I hadn’t struggled and if Mary Kom hadn’t been in my weight category, I might not have worked so hard.
“And if I hadn’t worked hard, I wouldn’t be a world champion today. So I’ll take it positively. Maybe I was more hungry because I got a chance so late.”
She had infamously demanded a “fair trial” for the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers, including against Mary Kom.
After the trial, which Mary Kom had won 9-1, Zareen had tried to hug the senior boxer, but the Manipuri did not respond.
“I felt bad then because the person I consider to be my role model, my idol, behaved like this. But things happen in the heat of battle because the competition is very intense.
“I continued with that, I met her after winning the world championship and everything is fine.”
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