London Games: India's final chance to pack a punch
The Asia Olympic qualification meet provides the Vijender Singh-led Indian boxing contingent the last chance to qualify for the London Olympics. The meet will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, from April 4. India will be vying for Olympic berths in six weight categories - 52kg, 56kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg and +91kg.other Updated: Mar 31, 2012 01:51 IST
The Asia Olympic qualification meet provides the Vijender Singh-led Indian boxing contingent the last chance to qualify for the London Olympics. The meet will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, from April 4. India will be vying for Olympic berths in six weight categories - 52kg, 56kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg and +91kg.
"All the boxers are in shape and we are expecting to earn two to three more quota places," said GS Sandhu, chief national coach.
L Devendro Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Vikas Krishan (69kg) have already made the cut by reaching the quarterfinals of the World Championship last year.
At the Beijing Olympics, India had sent five boxers and Vijender had gone on to win bronze.Sandhu though felt the pressure of a do-or-die situation won't affect the boxers' performance. "Pressure will be there for sure, but the boys have trained well and have plenty of experience. Vijender had won his quota place for the Beijing Olympics at the same venue and incidentally that too was the final chance of qualification," Sandhu said.
In Vijender's weight category (75kg) there are four berths at stake. So, making it to the semifinals will ensure him a berth for London. "For the last couple of months my entire focus is on the qualifiers and I hope I will make it," said Vijender. Apart from Vijender, others in the fray are Suranjoy Singh (52kg -- four quota places), Shiva Thapa (56kg -- three quota places), Sumit Sangwan (81kg -- three quota places), Manpreet Singh (91kg -- one quota place) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg -- one quota place).
Sandhu is hopeful that Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) secretary general Brigadier PK Muralidharan Raja would be present in Astana to motivate the players. "Muralidharan Raja's presence will give an extra edge to the boxers as he used to be a judge. His past experience can guide the boxers," said Sandhu.
Two wrestlers for Olympics
AMIT KUMAR (55kg) and Yogeshwar Dutt (60kg) became the first Indian wrestlers to book their London Olympics berths by clinching gold and silver respectively at the Asian Qualifying Tournament on Friday. However, Sushil Kumar (66kg) failed to make the cut in Kazakhstan. Amit blanked Shinichi Yumoto of Japan 5-0 to claim gold. Yogeshwar settled for silver after losing 1-3 to Masoud Mahmoud Esmaeil Poorjouybari of Iran. Sushil lost in the semis.