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Indian boxers hope to strike it rich in 2018 Commonwealth Games

Having failed to bag a single gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Indian boxing contingent is hoping to better this time in Gold Coast.

other sports Updated: Mar 17, 2018 23:10 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
2018 Commonwealth Games,Gold Coast,Boxing
Indian boxing contingent will have 12 members for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.(PTI)

Having returned home without a single gold medal from Glasgow in 2014, Indian boxers hope to turn around the wheel and clinch the prized yellow metal this time at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Indian pugilists suffered various problems in the last few years due to administrative issues. They also had to participate under neutral flags in international events as the Indian federation was not recognised.

But here on Saturday, the 12-member strong Indian boxing squad was given a warm send-off as the eight men and four women depart for the April 4-15 Games to acclimatise themselves with the conditions Down Under.

India won four silver and one bronze four years ago but failed to clinch the top prize. However, the boxers and officials are confident this time.

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“This is probably the strongest contingent we are sending to the Commonwealth Games. They are very well prepared and we expect them to do well. In the last one year, our boxers participated in 30 competitions and returned home with a rich haul,” Boxing Federation of India (BFI) president Ajay Singh said.

Manoj Kumar, who won a gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games but failed to repeat the performance in the 2014 edition, believes India should be able to win many medals.

“We have worked very hard over the last six months, which included precision training. A series of exposure trips have also helped us, boosting our confidence,” said Manoj.

Having won medals in almost every event there is in the sport, apart from the Olympics, former world women’s boxing champion L Sarita Devi wants to use the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games to prepare for Tokyo 2020.

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Sarita settled for silver at 2014 Glasgow but the 36-year-old is gunning for gold this time.

“I have put in a lot of effort for these Games. Since women’s boxing was introduced at the 2012 Olympics, it has become tougher at Commonwealth and Asian Games too,” said Sarita.

Asked what keeps her going, she said: “Boxing itself is motivation enough. Even if I miss it for a day, I feel that something is not complete.”

Vikas Krishnan and MC Mary Kom will also be India’s best bets in Gold Coast.

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Mary Kom’s personal coach Chhote Lal Yadav will be the assistant coach with the women’s squad. He has been associated with the Manipur boxer since 2016, and also oversaw her training in the national camp. Dharmendra Singh Yadav and Jai Singh Patil will be the two assistant coaches with the men’s team.

Coaches Swatantar Raj Singh (men) and Shiv Singh (women) will accompany the team but won’t stay for the main event. Rajkumar Sacheti, an official of the BFI, said, “It is due to the limited quota for coaching staff. We are giving opportunity to all the coaches. Some are going for pre-event training while others are going for the main event,” he said.

Sacheti says BFI has a quota of five coaches. Besides three Indian coaches, high performance director Santiago Nieva and Raffaele Bergamosco overseeing the women’s team, will stay with the national team during the main event.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 21:01 IST