There is a new, young brigade shaping up in boxing for the 2016 Rio Games. And, given the middle-class backgrounds India’s young guns — Shiva Thapa, Devendro Singh, Vikas Krishan and Sumit Sangwan — come from, it’s a story that should inspire a generation to take up the sport.
The performance of India’s 20-year-olds at the London Games leaves one with a sense of satisfaction that come 2016, our pugilists will be aiming for a bigger catch, provided injuries don't spoil their charge.
Start right away
“We should start immediately as time has already been wasted,” warns Akhil Kumar, the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist. Though he feels India were unlucky not to have won a medal in the men's section, he says disappointments should be an inspiration to move forward.
Even 1998 Asian Games gold-medallist, Dingko Singh — who inspired MC Mary Kom to take up the sport — feels India should start right away. “We need to find out where we went wrong and start planning immediately.”
Change the system
Both the Olympians feel that the Indian boxing federation should bring in changes in the coaching system also. “We need to have new coaches and there should be one coach for every four boxers,” feels Akhil. “The game is changing fast. The scoring system is different. Every weight category needs a different training regimen. Every weight category needs different recovery plans.”
Dingko feels that apart from coaches, good physios and recovery experts are crucial. “One can’t expect a coach or a trainer to double up as a masseur,” he says.
He feels the boxers must go on frequent exposure trips. “They have learnt their trade, all they need is confidence and good analytical feedback from the support staff. So, they must compete at the highest level more often.” Akhil concurs and adds it’s time for India to aim for the next level. “We have been dominating the Commonwealth and doing well in Asia, but we must take our game to the next level. Maybe, we should increase the pool of national boxers to 50 or 60. We should also have a talent-hunt programme every three-four months.”
The Beijing Games bronze medallist feels that there is no problem in terms of training.
“What we should see where we can introduce changes and where we should follow the same regimen. The scoring system, we could have won at least one medal,” he said.