Despite being a regular in the 51kg category,the presence of celebrated five-times world champion MC Mary Kom meant four-time Asian champion L Sarita Devi had to shift to the 60kg instead. The shift has worked out for both,with Mary Kom and Sarita winning golds in their respective categories,at the recent Asian Championships in Ulaanbaatar,Mongolia.
For the 31-year-old Sarita,it was her first success in the new category,winning her fifth Asian title. It has been a difficult phase. There were differences due to the weight issue as I was a regular in the 51kg and had won gold in Asian and World Championships. I was not getting a chance for the last one year and thought of quitting. But my husband insisted I try in the 60kg instead,which is also an Olympic category. I had been training in this category for about ten months, said Sarita,who won 16:9 against defending champion Tajikistans Chorieva Mavzuna.
The changes in weight categories after womens boxing was included in the Olympics meant making adjustments. Sarita,who started in the 57kg,became the Asian champion in 2001 before winning gold at the 2006 World Championships in 52kg. When I started,my build was such that 57kg suited me. In these categories,central Asian and Chinese boxers are tough. The win against current Asian Games gold medalist and 2009 World Championship silver medalist Chen Dong of China in the semifinal boosted my confidence, she added.
With eight Olympic places available in each of the three weight categories at the World Championships in China in May,Sarita is leaving no stone unturned. World Championships will be tough. There are boxers from Ireland,Germany and Italy who have good technique. The key will be to stick to a style that suits the weight category, she said.