Tokyo 2020: Lovlina Borgohain in boxing quarterfinals on Olympics debut

Lovlina Borgohain (R) competes against Nadine Apetz (red) of Germany at Tokyo 2020. Ueslei Marcelino - Pool/Getty Images

Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) advanced to the quarterfinals in her debut Olympic appearance, defeating German veteran Nadine Apetz in a closely-fought last-16 stage bout here on Tuesday.

Lovlina, the only Indian boxer in action on the day, prevailed 3-2 over her rival who is 12 years her senior. Both the boxers were making their Games debut and the Indian became the first from her nine-strong team to make the quarterfinal stage. The 23-year-old claimed all the three rounds on split points.

Lovlina will face Chen Nien-chin of Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals on July 30. She has history with the opponent standing between her and a bronze medal in Tokyo. She'd earlier lost a wide decision to Chen in the semifinal of the 2018 World Championships in India.

Lovlina is currently ranked world No.3 behind Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey and Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei. Lovlina, from the Golaghat district of Assam, started as a kickboxer (like her elder twin sisters Licha and Lima Borgohain), before switching to boxing in 2012. She burst into spotlight after winning bronze in the 2017 Asian Championships and gold in the 2018 India Open.

She secured her Olympic quota by entering the semifinals of the Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in March 2020. She won bronze after losing in the semifinals to 2018 World silver medallist Gu Hong of China. She is the first woman from Assam to qualify for the Olympics.

The 35-year-old Apetz was first German woman to qualify for a boxing event at the Olympics and also a two-time world championship bronze-medallist and a former European champion.

Lovlina, a two-time World and Asian championships bronze-medallist, was the aggressor in the opening round before she changed strategy to play the waiting game. The strategy worked out just fine despite the German's well-placed jabs often troubling the Indian. Lovlina relied mostly on her left hooks to keep the slender edge.

Apetz is a pioneering name in German boxing. She is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience, which she put on hold for a year to prepare for the Olympics. She made the Games cut after reaching the semifinals of the European Qualification Tournament last year.