Thirteen years back, in her prime, she had won a World Championship gold in 2006 in Delhi at the age of 24. And she eventually became the second most coveted and talked about Indian woman boxer after the legendary MC Marykom. At 37, Sarita Devi is still a force to reckon with -- if her strong comeback in trials, the rigorous practice sessions, her commitment and fire in her eyes are anything to go by. "People have mocked at me. They said Sarita is finished. She is over. She cant win anymore. She is old. Now I am back. I have defeated all these young girls in early twenties and in their prime. What do my critics say now?" Sarita told Republic TV before leaving for Women's World Boxing Championship in Russia.
Sarita Devi had suffered a few injuries in the past and was forced to take a break a few times. But that did not stop her from loving the sport and her unparallel commitment for the game ensured her miraculous comeback this year. Not many in the Boxing Federation or even in IOA had thought she would be back. Sarita said she was aiming to get a medal in the World Championship to prove all her detractors wrong. "I have won enough medals for myself. This will be dedicated to them," the champion boxer said ironically. Sarita and the legendary Mary Kom will spearhead a strong 10-member Indian contingent in the women's World Boxing Championships in Ulan Ude, Russia from October 3 to 13. It has been a long time since Sarita won a medal in the World Championships and she is seeking to break the 11-year-old hiatus in which could be her last outing at this global event. "Whenever I featured in the World Championships in the last 10 years I really played well but lost my bouts from winning positions. So it's a big challenge for me this time. I have worked a lot, brought about a lot of changes in my technique. So I am fully confident that I will get a medal this time," she said.
Sarita has maintained her same weight category for the last 10 years -- a record of sort. "It is not easy. I started competing at the light bantam category and mostly competed in bantam, welter category and even at the age of 37, I am still competing in 60 kg category which is the most competitive weight category in women boxing," she observed. Apart from her 2006 gold, Sarita has won two more bronze medals in 2005 and 2008 World Championships, a staggering 8 medals including 5 gold medals in Asian Championship, a silver in 2014 Commonwealth Games and a bronze in 2014 Asian Games. But an Olympic medal has remained elusive for the lightweight (60kg category) boxer from Manipur and she is desperate to win that in Tokyo before drawing curtains on her career.