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My losses have taught me the most: Lovlina Borgohain

Professional boxer Lovlina Borgohain talks about the 12 years of effort that went into winning a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, what failure has taught her, and more

Published: Sep 22, 2023 07:29:22 PM IST

Lovlina Borgohain, boxer; Image: Buda Mendes/AFPLovlina Borgohain, boxer; Image: Buda Mendes/AFP

Lovlina Borgohain grew up in Baromukhia in the Golaghat district of Assam. Along with her elder sisters, she started learning Muay Thai, because their mother was very keen that they have a career in sports.

But boxing was where she found her true calling. When the Sports Authority of India (SAI) held trials at her school, Barpathar Girls High School, Borgohain participated, and was immediately noticed and selected by coach Padum Chandra Bodo to train at the SAI Training Centres in Guwahati. “Since then, I had a single goal: To win a medal for India at the Olympics,” says Borgohain.

She went on to become the first female athlete and only the second boxer from Assam to represent the state at the Olympics, winning a bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Games. The Arjuna Award winner also won the gold medal in the 75-kg final at the World Women’s Boxing Championship in March 2023. In this interview with Forbes India, Borgohain talks about preparing for the Olympics, the importance of discipline, staying humble, and more. Edited excerpts:

"Always stay grounded”

For over 12 years, I worked very hard to get that medal during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Post that, suddenly my life changed. Earlier, no one knew me, and then suddenly I became famous. It was slightly tough to deal with the sudden fame. But I always knew that people who put me on a pedestal, can also push me down. So I try to focus on keeping myself balanced, not take the praises or criticism too seriously. I have my family to ensure that I stay humble and grounded.

“Resilience and discipline lead to success”

Today, people only see my medals and they forget the amount of hard work I’ve put in to get there. I’ve only had one single goal all my life—winning a medal for my country at the Olympics. That’s why I was extremely disciplined, with my trainings, nutrition and recovery. For athletes to be successful over the long run, they need to be disciplined. Throughout my training, in whatever competitions I participated, I rarely won a gold. That pushed me even more, and made me to get better.

"Focus on your game, and don't think about winning or losing"

Before the Olympics, no one cared if I won or lost something because no one knew me. But now, no matter how small the competition, people expect me to get a medal. This used to stress me out a lot and I would end up feeling quite pressurised. But over time, I’ve learnt how to handle the stress. Now, I turn off all forms of social media 1-2 months before a competition; it helps me focus better. During the game, I only try to focus on the game, enjoy it and not care about the wins or the losses.

“Failure teaches you the most”

Right after the Olympic medal, I felt a lot of relief and in that I lost myself a little bit. I got carried away with that win, and didn’t focus as much on my routine. I had a couple of back-to-back losses right after that, it was a very hard time for me. Additionally, I was being moved up a weight category, so adjusting to that was tough. But I suppose I needed those losses to help me come back, even stronger.

“Strong support system goes a long way”

The general perception that people have always had is that girls should not take up sports like boxing. People in my village would talk, and tell my parents not to send me to Guwahati for training. But thankfully my family never believed in this and always stood by me. In fact my mother wanted me to take up sports professionally and my father always wanted me to win a medal at the Olympics. So, I've been blessed with parents who have always supported me. They are my greatest inspiration and my real-life heroes.

Also, my other support system like my nutritionist and organisations like the Reliance Foundation really helped me turn around from tough spots. Even when I stopped believing in myself, they never did.