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Packing a punch for glory

The Beijing Olympic Games saw the Indian boxers break a jinx. The bronze by Bhiwani boy, Vijender Singh, gave Indian pugilists hope. Saurabh Duggal reports. The road to Olympics | Progress since Bejing Olympics

other Updated: Aug 01, 2011 02:27 IST
Saurabh Duggal

The Beijing Olympic Games saw the Indian boxers break a jinx. The bronze by Bhiwani boy, Vijender Singh, gave Indian pugilists hope.

Four years later, they are hoping to convert the success into gold. The Beijing Games, in a way, freed the Indians of a mental block and it has showed in their success in almost all major competitions after the mega event.

"For the last two years, even the best in the business are wary of us," said Dinesh Kumar, 23, who won silver at last year's Asian Games in Guangzhou. The Bhiwani boxer lost a close bout to the two-time world champion from Uzbekistan, but even in defeat he made a point.

"At the Beijing Games, I lost the opening bout to Algeria's Abdelhafid. But three months later, I defeated him to clinch bronze in the World Cup. At the Asian Games, I lost the final bout by just two points and the boxer to whom I lost was the 2009 world champion in the 81kg category. The world is taking us seriously now and following our progress closely," said Dinesh.

The first Olympic qualification test for India will come in September at the World Championships, after which they will get another chance to book a London berth at the continental championships next year.

Asked about his chances at the London Olympics, Vijender said, "I need to qualify, then will I be in a position to comment on my chances. But one thing is clear, Indian boxers will definitely do better than in Beijing.

"The last time, we could only manage a single Olympic berth from the World Championships. But this time, we are expecting two-three from the world meet."

"Overall, we are expecting five-six London quota berths," said the men's chief national coach, GS Sandhu. On his wards' medal chances, he said, "It is difficult to predict the number of medals. But the way we have progressed after the Beijing Olympics, we should win two medals in London. I also expect a couple of medals from the women boxers," he added.

New kid on the block, 17-year-old Shiva Thapa (56kg), who won silver at the Youth World Championships and Youth Olympics, is making waves in the senior category. He defeated world No. 2 and World Amateur boxing champion, Delakliev Detelin of Bulgaria, to bag gold at the Belgrade Winner Tournament this year.

The road to Olympics | Progress since Bejing Olympics