Indian boxer Preeti Pawar secured a quota for the Paris Olympics and also assured herself of a medal, moving into the women’s 54kg semifinals of the Asian Games here on Saturday.
The 19-year-old put up a fearless display against Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova, a three-time World Championship medallist and reigning Asian champion, to eke out a 4-1 win in the fiercely-fought quarterfinal.
Preeti started the bout on the offensive but her defence was broken several times by her more experienced rival. Unperturbed, the Indian teenager continued to pummel Shekerbekova to take a slender 3-2 lead in the first round.
Up against the experienced 33-year-old, Preeti fought a strategic bout as she moved off the center of the ring in the beginning of the second round with a long range jab.
In the last three minutes, the two boxers showered a lot of punches at each other but both were inaccurate. As the clock ticked, the fatigue kicked in for Shekerbekova, while Preeti continued to pepper her opponent with shots to take the win.
On Friday, Nikhat Zareen became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic quota.
In the women’s events, the semifinalists in the 50kg, 54kg, 57kg, and 60kg while the finalists in the 66kg and 75kg will qualify for the Paris Olympics.
The gold and silver medallists in each of the seven weight divisions in the men’s event will receive Olympic quotas.