After injury in Tokyo, Vikash Krishan aims for yet another Olympics
With the experience of three Olympics behind him, the dream of an Olympic medal continues to drive the Haryana boxer
An injury to his right shoulder just days before the Tokyo Olympics proved disastrous for Vikas Krishan. The seasoned boxer’s Olympics campaign ended in heartbreak as he was outplayed in his opening bout.
Krishan came back to India and scans revealed a tear that needed surgery.
He was operated upon in August and is now completing his rehabilitation. Krishan had earlier planned to fully shift to professional boxing after the Olympics, but now he is determined to give another shot at the 2024 Paris Games.
“I am getting back my range and need to focus on strengthening now. It will take another two months before I can come back to the ring. My priority is the 2024 Paris Olympics. If I find that professional fights will help me towards that goal I will go for it, otherwise I will fully concentrate on the Olympics,” he said.
His longtime physio Arvind Yadav, who is overseeing his recovery, says he will be back in the ring by December but the focus will be on bigger events like Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year.
“After one or two weeks he will start weight training. For full fitness he will take another two to three months to come back to the level where he was before surgery," Yadav said. "From a point where he was not able to do any movement and lift anything, we have made good progress. He is doing a lot of under-water exercises because on ground he still needs some time to have that stability for his shoulder.” Yadav is also the chief physio of Pro Kabaddi team Bengaluru Bulls.
What Krishan also needs to work on is to get over the disappointment of Tokyo, feels Yadav.
“Going to the Olympics he was very focused and prepared . For two-three years he was so vocal that he wanted to bring back a medal for the country," Yadav said. "So, he was struggling to come to terms with what happened in Tokyo. He was depressed. It will take some time to come to terms with it. But he is very determined that he wants to make a strong comeback.”
Krishan, 29, will just barely have age on his side if he makes it to the 2024 Olympics, but he sure will have plenty of experience to bank on, having fought in three Olympics now. From winning a bronze at the 2011 World Championships, three medals at Asian Games and gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Krishan was eyeing that one big Olympic medal missing from his cabinet. In 2018, he moved to professional boxing for a brief period only to return for Olympic qualification in the 69 kg category.
Before Tokyo, the Indian team was preparing in Italy when Krishan suffered the injury during a sparring session. He tried to fight through it with the help of painkillers.
“It happened just 10 days before the Olympics. There was no time. There was pain but I thought it was normal and icing and pain killers would do. But the pain did not subside,” said Krishan.
In Tokyo, while training with teammate Manish Kaushik, he realised that the injury was more serious than he thought.
“I wanted to check my hand and I was doing shadow punching with Manish. After one punch I was just not able to move my hand and I just sat there. I was in a lot of pain and I told the coaches that I am not able to do anything with my right hand,” he said. Yet, he chose to take a chance and fight on.
“Itni door aa ke mein bina lade nahi jaana chahta tha (I didn’t want to go back without a fight after coming so far). And you never know how your opponent is feeling. Boxing is an unpredictable game. If I am injured, the opponent can also be injured. It was the big stage of the Olympics, so much hard work had gone into it. My family had been looking forward to seeing me compete, there was a lot at stake. So, I thought no matter what I will take my place in the ring,” Krishan said.
In the ring, Krishan found that he could only really use one hand.
“I kept throwing punches with the other hand, who knows one good punch and anything can happen," he said. "At one point I just sat there holding my shoulder for which I also got a count. He was the same opponent I had beaten comprehensively in the Olympic qualification tournament.”
After the loss, Krishan headed straight back to India to get the injury checked.
“I asked if it can get better without surgery but the doctor told me that if I don’t get operated on, I should forget about getting back to the ring again," Krishan said. "He was surprised how I fought in such a condition.”