Nikhat Zareen’s ‘biggest challenge’ for podium finish at Paris Olympics is Buse Naz Cakiroglu

Nikhat Zareen’s ‘biggest challenge’ for podium finish at Paris Olympics is Buse Naz Cakiroglu

In 2019 – when Nikhat was yet to completely emerge from Mary Kom’s shadows – Buse Naz won a silver at the World Championships

Nikhat Zareen, the two-time world champion boxer, is gearing up for her debut at the Olympics in Paris, knowing that the journey ahead is filled with challenges and opportunities. As the countdown to the Games begins, Zareen reflects on the anticipation and nerves that come with such a momentous event, acknowledging the pressure that lies ahead.

With just under 100 days remaining until her Olympic debut, Zareen has embarked on a rigorous training regimen, travelling thousands of kilometres across various countries to hone her skills and gather invaluable experience. From Patiala to Sofia, Montenegro to Kastamonu, Bangkok to Saarbrucken, her journey has taken her far and wide in pursuit of her ultimate goal: standing on the Olympic podium.

Buse Naz Cakiroglu being Nikhat Zareen’s biggest challenge

One of the pivotal moments in Zareen’s preparation came during her training camp in Kastamonu, Turkey, where she sparred with her toughest rival, Buse Naz Cakiroglu. Despite defeating Cakiroglu in the past, Zareen recognizes her as a formidable opponent, one who poses a significant challenge in her quest for Olympic glory.

“I find her the biggest challenge,” Nikhat says of the Turkish boxer. “I boxed with her in the 2022 Strandja Memorial and faced her in the semifinals and won by a 4-1 decision. So, before the Olympics, I wanted to do that and see what’s changed in her game.”

Their rivalry is rooted in mutual respect and admiration, as both athletes have dominated their respective weight categories in recent years. With the prospect of facing off at the Olympics looming large, Zareen understands the importance of studying her opponent up close, gaining insights that could prove crucial in the ring.

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Zareen sparrs with Cakiroglu in Turkey

The training sessions in Kastamonu were intense yet fruitful, with Zareen and Cakiroglu pushing each other to their limits. Despite the competitive nature of their encounters, Zareen approached them with a strategic mindset, focusing on refining her techniques and adapting to different scenarios.

“No boxer shows her 100% game in sparring. We hide our ‘A’ game, try to work on the ‘B’ game.” Zareen explains.

As Zareen continues her preparations for the Olympics, she remains steadfast in her commitment to achieving success on the world stage. Despite the sacrifices and challenges she faces along the way, Zareen is fueled by the belief that her hard work and dedication will ultimately lead to victory.

“I believe better things are waiting for me,” she says optimistically. “Next year, I’ll celebrate Eid with an Olympic medal, inshallah.”

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