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Pugilists in medal round

Displaying superb combination of grit and power, four boxers — Sandeep Singh, Namit Bahadur, Shiva Thapa and Vikas Khatri - made it to the medal round of the AIBA Junior World Championship at Yerevan, Armenia. Saurabh Duggal reports.

other Updated: May 28, 2009 00:42 IST

After the success of the seniors at the Beijing Olympics and the World Cup, the junior pugilists look set to corner glory. Displaying superb combination of grit and power, four boxers — Sandeep Singh (46kg), Namit Bahadur (50), Shiva Thapa (52) and Vikas Khatri — on Wednesday made it to the medal round of the AIBA Junior World Championship at Yerevan, Armenia.

Sandeep elbowed out Hohleu Aliaksei of Belarus 11-3, Namit beat Haykir Bulut (Turkey) 7-5, Shiva outclassed Israel’s Stainislav Makhlin in the first round itself and Vikas Khatri overcame a fighting Yang Zhang of China 8-6.

“The boys are doing really well… they will prove their worth in the semifinal bouts on Friday,” said junior national coach M.S. Dhaka from Armenia. “Even before reaching Yerevan, I was sure Sandeep and Shiva would make it to the medal round. Namit too did well on his international debut,” he said.

Before leaving for Armenia, Sandeep Singh had said he was confident of bagging a medal. “In my debut tournament last year in Russia, I lost in the second round. But this time around, I am hopeful of making it to the medal round,” he said.

Shiva Thapa (16) hails from Assam and he too has been winning the national title for the last three years. He made his international debut in 2008, bagging gold in the Hyder Ali Cup and followed it up with a bronze in the Children Asia meet last year. “My father was a karate exponent but chose boxing for me, as he thought there was no future in karate,” Shiva had said.

Namit Bahadur (16) is the reining national champion and was placed third in 2006. It was because of his elder brother Raja Ram — a former national medallist — that Namit took up the sport.

Vikas Khatri started boxing in his village Ismaila about five years back before shifting base to Rohtak. Presently training at the Army Sports Institute in Pune, he won two successive gold in 2006 and 2007 nationals.

For the first time four boxers entered the semis in this event. India won two gold and a bronze in the last edition.