Indulge Exclusive: Olympian Lovlina Borgohain says, 'I have become fearless now; I am a lion'
Olympian Lovlina Borgohain on her love for traditional attire, craving Assamese-style pork and the childhood story behind her long list of names
While for most people the red carpet would be the symbol of celebration and achievement, for Olympian Lovlina Borgohain, her moment of excitement was when she set foot on a concrete road that led to her village, Baro Mukhia in Sarupathar of Golaghat district, Assam. Along with the bronze medal she won at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 in the 69kg women’s welterweight category in the boxing defeating Taiwan’s Nien-Chin Chen, this pugilist also won a motorable road for her hometown (a gift from the state government on her win), which was otherwise nearly a gravel pathway. We could sense her excitement as she fielded several interviews and photoshoots when we caught up with her earlier this week.
Lovlina is surely in a good space right now. She has charted her name in history by becoming the third Indian boxer to win a medal at the Olympics this year. She is the first woman athlete and the second boxer from Assam to represent the state in the Olympics.
Just like any athlete, Lovlina has the attitude of ‘focus on training and endure the struggles’. She is not someone who would ask for a differential treatment just because she’s a girl. Inadvertently a feminist, she says, “Girls can do everything but at times I think they don’t want to participate in many things. Girls need to change their mindsets and trust themselves.” In fact, before she enters the ring, unlike other fighters, who are backslapped and get words of encouragement from their coach, Lovlina had her own slogan — ‘I am not a lioness, I am a lion’.
“I used to feel nervous before any competition during my training days and when I would perform well nobody would come and pat my back. I feel everyone should be motivated when they do something good. I have become fearless now,” expresses the Olympian, who has now set her eyes on the 2024 Paris Olympics. “My journey is not complete yet. I am not satisfied with the bronze. Until I win the gold medal at the Olympics 2024, I am not going to feel better,” avers the young athlete.
A sweet story
It was in the early 2000s when Lovlina’s father Tiken Borgohain brought home some sweets wrapped in a newspaper. The paper caught Lovlina’s eye because it had the famous American boxer Muhammad Ali’s picture on it. “My father told me the story and it intrigued me. I thought despite living in a small village we could read about him, so I should also do something like this,” Lovlina recalls and tells us that her sports life started with training in mixed martial arts of muay thai in her village. Here, Lovlina was spotted by renowned boxing coach Padum Boro in 2012 during a trial and selection camp by Sports Authority of India for city-based boxers. She then joined SAI’s boxing training centre. “The skills that I learned from martial arts added up to my boxing training.
A rose by any other name
The sisters have a big role to play in her success, just like how they changed her name many times before she finally took to Lovlina. “My name changed in every class in school because my mother did not like any of them. Then we settled for Priyanka for a long time, which my sisters didn’t like; so finally, my mother settled on Lovlina unaware of the meaning of it. But now my name is everywhere, they won’t be able to change it this time, hopefully,” she laughs.
Back home vibes
While her training and diet were taken care of at her training institute, she longed for the food made by her mother, especially pork-based dishes. “I like everything that my mother cooks. It’s the best food in the world. I never longed for any fancy food,” says Lovlina and tells us that she is now looking forward to binging on her favorite food and exploring a few places in Assam. “I will be going on a vacation with my family since I have some time now. I am also looking forward to celebrating Durga Puja in my village. It’s a huge affair and I want to wear all the saris and a Mekhela Chador (traditional Assamese dress), which I haven’t worn for many years,” says Lovlina beaming with excitement, and adds that she will now grow her hair out, which she cut for the sport. “A sari won’t look nice on me if my hair is short and I think I look beautiful in traditional clothes,” she blushes.
Images: Shekhar Yadav