Sonia eclipses Son to make final

Sonia eclipses Son to make final

FIGHTER India’s Sonia (right) lands a punch on Son Hwa Jo of North Korea in the 57 kg category semifinal of the Women’s World Boxing Championships in New Delhi on Friday. AFP

Sonia Chahal beat the odds to enter the final of her debut Women’s World Championships in the 57 kg category at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium on Friday.

Simranjit Kaur, also making her Worlds’ debut, couldn’t progress further. She went down by split decision (4:1) to China’s Dou Dan in the semifinal. Nonetheless, it was a remarkable performance from the young Simranjeet, who had lost her father in July.

The 23-year-old settled for a bronze, the second for India in this Championships after Lovlina Borgohain in 69 kg.

Sonia joins the legendary MC Mary Kom in the final on Saturday to make it an impressive outing for India. This is the first time since 2006 the country has two finalists in the World Championships.

For the 21-year-old Sonia, it has been an exhaustive run-up to the finals. Her previous two rounds were close where she had to battle her way to victory. The semifinals proved to be no different.

Despite the unanimous decision in her favour, it was a victory hard-earned for Sonia. It was a tight, cagey bout against North Korea’s Son Hwa, a fearsome mix of power and sharp punching.

Sonia got a taste of it right in the first round when two stinging jabs from the Asian Games silver medallist threw her off balance. The dark imprints of the hits were visible under her eye after the bout. But Sonia shook off the pain and the setback to put up a strong challenge in the second round.

She relied on her speed and tactical approach and scored on counters. She seemed to take control in the final round, attacking with purpose, to swing the decision in her favour. It was a sweet victory for the young boxer from Nimri village of Bhiwani district (Haryana), who had replaced the seasoned Sonia Lather -- the previous edition’s silver medallist -- in the 57 kg class.

“I can’t believe I have reached the final of World Championships at home. I have worked extremely hard for this day,” said Sonia, a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the occasion. “It was a tough bout and after the second round the coaches asked me to get aggressive so I was more attacking.”

Sonia is now up against Gabriele Omella Wahner of Germany who defeated Jemyma Betrian of the Netherlands 5-0.

Simranjit put up a spirited show, but couldn’t get the desired result. The Chinese proved to be a tough customer, and the Indian quickly found herself on the back foot.

The 23-year-old made a case for herself in the second round but was up against a fierce onslaught of clean punches from the Chinese in the final round. Still, Simranjeet was not easily put off her stride. She put up an impressive fight in the final minutes, but that was not enough to impress the judges.

“I am satisfied with my performance here. I thought I was trailing in the first round but gave my best in the third round,” she said.

Results: Semifinals: 51 kg: Zhaina Shekerbekova(Kaz) bt Namiki Tsukimi (Jap) 5:0, Virgina Fuchs (USA bt Pang Chol Mi 5:0.

57 kg: Sonia Chahal (Ind) bt Jo Son Hwa (Prk) 5: 0, Jemyma Betrian (Ned) bt Gabriele Wahner (Ger) 5:0.

64 kg: Mariia Bova (Ukr) bt Sema Caliskan (Tur) 4:1, Dou Dan bt Simranjit Kaur (India) 4:1. 

75 kg: Nouchka Fontijn bt Lauren Price (Wal) 3: 2, Li Qian(Chn) bt Naomi Graham (Usa) 5-0.

+81 kg: Xiaoli Yang (Chn) bt Danielle Perkins(Usa): w/o, Sennur Demir (Tur) bt Christina Tkacheva (Rus): 5: 0.

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