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It’s Mary Kom vs Nikhat Zareen in finals of trials for Olympic Qualifiers

Six-time world champion M C Mary Kom and Nikhat Zareen will clash in the 51kg category finals of the women’s boxing trials for next year’s Olympic Qualifiers after claiming unanimous victories in their respective first-round bouts in New Delhi on Friday.

Former junior world champion Zareen defeated reigning national champion Jyoti Gulia, while multiple-time Asian champion Mary Kom got the better of Ritu Grewal. The two-day competition will end on Saturday after the finals.

Zareen had kicked up a storm a few weeks ago by demanding a trial against iconic six-time world champion M C Mary Kom after the Boxing Federation of India’s flip-flop on the selection policy for the Olympic Qualifiers.

Mary Kom had maintained that she would abide by the selection policy laid down by the BFI, which ultimately decided to have trials.

This was after BFI President Ajay Singh triggered the storm by announcing at a felicitation ceremony that Mary Kom would be selected for the Olympic qualifiers without any trial due to her consistent international performances.

An irate Zareen then demanded a “fair chance” against the celebrated Manipuri, who is also a Rajya Sabha member.

In other trial bouts on Friday, world youth gold-medallist Sakshi Chaudhary defeated Asian silver-winner Manisha Maun in the 57kg category, while former national champion Simranjit Kaur got the better Pavitra in the 60kg opener.

Former world champion veteran L Sarita Devi will be Kaur’s opponent in the final. Sarita got the better of former youth world champion Shashi Chopra in her preliminary bout.

Former world silver-medallist Sonia Lather will face Sakshi in the 57kg final after defeating Sonia Chahal.

In the 75kg category, former Asian Games bronze-medallist Pooja Rani defeated Indraja to make the finals.

The Olympic qualifiers are scheduled to be held in China next year from February 3 to 14.

All five categories in women’s boxing are being decided by trials as none in the 51kg, 57kg, 60kg, 69kg, and 75kg divisions managed to make the finals of the world championships.

The two-day trials for men will be held in Bellary, Karnataka starting on Sunday.

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