Video analysis, mental preparation key to Pooja Rani’s quest for Tokyo Olympics medal

The 75kg class Asian champion has been analysing video footage of every boxer expected to pose her a challenge at Tokyo 2020.

By Aarish Ansari
Picture by BFI

Indian boxer Pooja Rani is aiming for another top finish at the Tokyo Olympics in July. And for that, the middleweight pugilist is leaving no stone unturned.

Pooja Rani recently won the Asian boxing championships in the 75kg category and was the only one among the 10 Indian women boxers in Dubai to win a gold medal.

Ahead of her maiden appearance at the Olympics, the Bhiwani-born boxer has studied all her opponents who have qualified for Tokyo 2020 and trains specifically for each challenger in her class.

“I have 16 boxers in my weight division and I know each and every boxer’s style of play,” Pooja Rani told Olympics.com.

“I sit with my coach and watch their bouts. I watched the bouts from the recent European qualifiers and even recorded the fights.”

Pooja Rani, now a two-time Asian champion, mentally visualises a bout before stepping into the ring. 

“If I have a bout the next day, I keep thinking about the fight. Sometimes, as soon as I fall asleep, I see myself fighting the opponent in the ring,” Pooja quipped.

The 75kg women’s boxing category at Tokyo comprises, among others, world championships bronze medallist Tammara Thibeault of Canada, Commonwealth Games silver medallist Caitlin Parker of Australia and European champion Aoife O'Rourke of Ireland.

It also includes Olympians Atheyna Bylon of Panama and Khadija El-Mardi of Morocco.

However, the 30-year-old Pooja Rani considers European boxers, particularly from Great Britain, the Netherlands and Russia, along with China, as her main challengers in Tokyo.

China’s Li Qian is a bronze medallist while Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands is a silver medallist from Rio 2016. Both have made the cut for Tokyo in the 75kg category.

Britain’s Lauren Price, a Commonwealth Games and world champion, and Russia’s Zemfira Magomedalieva, a two-time world and European champion, are the others in the category.

Currently training at the Army Sports Institute in Pune due to the pandemic, Pooja Rani is not letting the restrictions hinder her preparation for the quadrennial event.

Pooja Rani, along with three other Indian boxers, will fly to Italy on June 15 for a training camp with European boxers since there are no more competitions before the Tokyo Games.

She will return to India after three weeks before heading to Tokyo and remains confident of coming back with an Olympic medal.

"I will give my best in the Olympics and the rest is up to God. Of course, I see myself on the Olympic podium," a hopeful Pooja Rani signed off.