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World champion Nikhat Zareen ready for 'new experience' at Commonwealth Games with eye on Paris

Mumbai, July 8 (IANS) World Champion Nikhat Zareen will get a chance to judge the competition and gain experience in the 50kg weight class for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, when she embarks on her campaign in the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, starting on July 28.

Nikhat, who won the gold medal in the recent World Championship in the 52kg category, will have to reduce weight and come down to 50kg for the Commonwealth Games. Incidentally, this is the same weight class that has been shortlisted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for Paris 2024.

“IOC has selected 50kg for Paris while in Asian Games, competitions will be held in 51kg. They have picked 50kg for Commonwealth Games too. Coming down from 52 to 50 is not a big difference, I will not have to reduce a lot of weight,” Nikhat said on Friday during an interaction facilitated by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).

“Though I will have to lose two kgs weight, I will continue to have the same muscle mass and strength. There is also, 54kg in Olympic (and WCG) but that would be tougher because many times those in 60kg come down to 54 so competing against them would be difficult because they could be taller and may have longer reach. So, 50kg was the best option in this scenario as 52kg is not part of the competition,” Nikhat said.

Nikhat said Commonwealth Games would be a new experience for her as she would be taking part in a new weight category.

“I have checked out a few things and boxers from England and Ireland will be my main opponents. I am taller than both of them and I would try and use my longer reach and attack from distance against them,” said Nikhat.

The 26-year-old boxer from Nizamabad in Telangana, who defeated Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in the fly-weight final to win a gold medal in the 2022 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Istanbul, was confident that the 12-member Indian team — four female and eight male — do well in the Commonwealth Games.

Nikhat predicted the team to win eight medals including four gold in Birmingham. “We have a strong team with four women and eight men boxers in Commonwealth Games. I expect us to win eight at least eight medals, four of them gold,” she said.

Nikhat said 2022 has proved her best year in recent times and said her attitude towards the sport has changed in the one year or so and she is now more serious and dedicated towards her sport.

Nikhat, who has had to endure many a hardship as she came through the ranks to get into the national camp, into the international arena, and succeed, said went into the trials for the Commonwealth Games because she had to participate in many events following her World Championship triumph. “There were a lot of events that I had to attend but I managed to keep myself fit so that with three days of preparation, I could get ready for the trials,” she said, adding that her preparations have gone on well after the trials and now is ready for the CWG challenge.

–IANS

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