The effort wasn't lacking. He smiled for the cameras from behind the two diminutive pugilists from Manipur, Devendro Singh and London bronze medallist Mary Kom, posed with clenched fists alongside the latter and diligently hopped from one felicitation ceremony to another on Thursday.
But despite having his bravest face on, Beijing bronze medallist Vijender Singh cut a forlorn figure. It is not hard to understand why. With a string of strong performances since 2008, Vijender was tipped to be one of India's strongest medal contenders. But after a couple of good bouts, his quarterfinal loss against Terrell Gausha of USA meant he failed to become the first Indian to win individual medals in back-to-back Games, an honour that went to wrestler Sushil Kumar.
His success four summers ago had catapulted him to instant stardom. But at the felicitation ceremony, organised by the Indian Amateur Boxing Federati-on (IABF), Vijender dismissed suggestions that his loss was a reality check. "Each one of us gave our 100% and that includes me," said Vijender.
Predictably, he took a dig at the scoring system. "There were some problems. Some decisions didn't go our way - if they had, we'd have had two or three more medals. Many decisions were overturned, like in Vikas' bout."
Asked if he could have done something different when doubts regarding the scoring system emerged, Vijender replied, "Hum jitna marzi alag kar le, number toh udges ke haathon mein hi hote hai (The points are scored by judges no matter what we do)."
Vijender was not the only one complaining about the scoring system. "Earlier, the scores were visible, but now they're hidden," said chief coach GS Sandhu. "Now, since we only get to know the scores between rounds, the strategy gets affected."
"While it may not be correct to blame a system, it is definitely not transparent," added Sandhu.
Concurred IABF secretary general Muralidharan Raja: "It's the men behind the machine. They are human after all."