The Olympic-bound Indian boxers today got a shot in the arm after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) accepted their demand of including South African physio Heath Matthews in the contingent for Beijing.
The development comes after the boxers, most notably bantam weight hope Akhil Kumar, expressed their displeasure at the IOA's initial decision to leave Matthews out despite accomodating the additional support staff of tennis stars Sania Mirza, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.
"The Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) thanks the Indian Olympic Association for having acceded to our request of including the world famous South African Physiotherapist Heath Matthews to accompany the Boxing Contingent to Beijing," IBF secretary general Col P K M Raja said in a statement.
"This wonderful gesture will certainly pay rich dividends in India's quest for a podium finish for the pugilists at Beijing," he added.
Matthews has been with the team in their ongoing training camp in Patiala, playing a crucial role in the recovery and rehabilitaion of Akhil, who had been struggling with a wrist injury for almost a year.
"He saved my career. Had it not been for him, I am not sure whether I would have recovered from the wrist injury. I am sure Matthews' presence in Beijing would be of great help not just for me but also for the entire team," Akhil said.
A record five boxers -- Akhil, Vijender (75kg), A L lakra (57kg), Dinesh Kumar (81kg) and Jitender (51kg) -- have qualified for the Olympics this time.
The team is presently training at NIS, Patiala under chief coach G S Sandhu and Cuban B I Fernandes and will leave for Beijing on August 2.
Meanwhile, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) said the official draw of the Games will be done manually "to provide an exciting and thrilled demonstration of boxers bouts in each weight category".
The ceremony is scheduled on August 8, while the competition will commence on August 9.