Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Interview with Sonia Lather: "World championship medal proves I’m the best"

Indian women boxing contingent had never returned empty-handed from the AIBA World Championship and Sonia Lather deserves all praise for ensuring the country came home with a coveted silver medal in the marquee event. The 24-year-old pugilist, who hails from Haryana’s Jind district, lost the featherweight (57-kg) category to Italy’s Alessia Mesiano in a tight contest.
Employed with the Railways, Sonia, who did not box for India for three years since the 2012 Asian Championship, spoke about her world championship ‘highs’ and much more in an exclusive interview.
Excerpts:

Q You must have been a special feeling to win a silver medal at the 2016 AIBA World Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan. Your thoughts.
I’m really happy to win a medal for my country. I’m a tad disappointed that I could not win my final bout against Italy’s Alessia Mesiano. I thought the final bout was a close affair and I really had my chances to go for glory, but it was not destined to be my day.

Q You won four bouts to reach the final of the featherweight (57-kg) category. Can you sum up all your bouts?

I fought against a Mongolian, a German and a Polish opponent in the first three rounds and I was in full control in these bouts. I was little apprehensive about my semifinal bout against Kazakhstan’s Aizhan Khojabekova not because she was a great boxer but because she is from the host nation. Beating a pugilist from the host nation always gives a joyous feeling.

Q This is the first time you fought in the featherweight (57-kg) category and you won a medal at the world championships – you have been out of the national team for three years. This must have been really satisfying win?

I was a national champion in 2010, 2011 and 2012 in the bantamweight category (54-kg) which is my pet weight category but I was not getting opportunities to represent the nation. I gave trials for the lightweight (60-kg) category for the 2016 world championships but was picked for the featherweight (57-kg category).

Q You last played for India at the 2012 Asian Boxing Championship in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where you had won a silver medal in the bantamweight category (54-kg) – you played in the 2016 world championship after three years in the wilderness.

Politics is always there in the selection of boxers. I was not getting picked despite performing. My world championship medal proves that I’m the best in the featherweight category. It is never easy to perform on the international stage when you have not represented the country for three years.

Q How disappointing it is to see none of our women boxers securing an Olympic berth?

It’s a sad feeling indeed. It would have been nice to have our boxers in Rio but not qualifying for the Olympics is a reality we have to come to terms with.

Q How do you look at the future of Indian women boxing?

There is a future only if a federation is put in place. We have been boxing under the AIBA flag and boxers are the bigger sufferers – youngsters are only training and no nationals being are being held since 2014. I just hope a federation takes control of Indian boxing soon.

Q Tell us about your family and where you started picking up boxing?

I’m the only one boxing in the family. My father is a farmer – I have two sisters and one brother.

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