London is less than a month away, but one of India’s most realistic medal prospects has just managed to free himself from a series of tests of a wholly different kind. As far as common belief goes, excellence at a young age, sporting achievements for instance, doesn’t mix with academic proficiency.
But while there are many sportspersons for whom examinations are a greater fear than their opponents, every once in a while a Vikas Krishan forces public perception to go take a hike.
For the newest poster boy of Indian boxing, education has always been a top priority, something that was drilled into him by his father Krishan Kumar Yadav. “Like any father, I wanted my son to lead a respectable life, for which I believed education to be the only vehicle,” recalls Yadav, who works as a stenographer in the Haryana State Electricity Board. “But seeing his successes and dedication, I gave him the freedom to choose his path.”
Nevertheless, Krishan continued to excel in academics (he was awarded scholarships till eighth standard), and chose to go in for higher studies even though he had made up his mind to make a career out of his chosen sport, opting for a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rohtak’s Maharishi Dayanand University.
His final-year papers clashed with the final foreign exposure trip before the Games. And, even as the rest of India’s Olympic-bound pugilists slogged it out in Ireland, Krishan was busy writing his way towards his graduation degree. Academics, however, do not unnerve Krishan. “Unlike boxing, exams are easy. Prepare as per the syllabus, and you are bound to score well. When it comes to boxing, though, there’s no prescribed syllabus,” says the Haryana Police DSP.
For Krishan, having to go up against an opponent with a mind of his own is what makes boxing a particularly dangerous sport.
“You don’t know what is going on in your opponent’s head, what he’s thinking, and when or how he’ll attack or react,” says the Asian Games gold-medallist, who despite giving Ireland a skip is gung-ho about his prospects."I have always dreamed of standing on the podium at the Olympics. Now the time has come to make the most of the opportunity," says the Bhiwani-based boxer who burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old at the Guangzhou Asiad, where he won the 60kg gold in what was his first senior international, breaking a 12-year jinx in the process.
Krishan, who feels he has matured since that triumph, says, “Now, with my training going as per schedule, it’s time to make the most of the opportunity.” Last year, the switch to the 69kg category, was a rare double jump. “There was no way I could stick to 60kg in my growing years.”
Growing in stature, Krishan can leave the best powerless.