CHENNAI : The future of Indian boxing seems to be on the sunny side. Commonwealth Games was a massive encouragement, especially in the men’s corner, with all eight participants winning medals. Away from the spotlight, youth boxers showed long-term promise, winning 11 medals (3 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze) during the recently-concluded ASBC Youth Asian Boxing Championships (April 19 - 28) that was held in Bangkok.
Despite showing strong aptitude, the outing was far from flawless as the main objective was not fulfilled.
The big draw before the event was that India had an opportunity to secure Youth Olympic Games (YOG) tickets (only in select categories). As things stand, India has achieved just one through Jyoti Gulia (51 kg), who had assured it after winning gold during the World Youth Boxing Championships last year.
“We were targeting five gold medals. But the girls could not play to their potential and had to settle for three instead. We were expecting two girls (60 kg and 75 kg) to qualify. But they were struggling with their movement in their very first bout. That was a big setback as we were confident that they could go all the way,” Bhaskar Bhatt, India coach, told Express from Rohtak, where the girls are undergoing a training camp.
However, the coach is encouraged looking at the bigger picture. “Overall, it was quite a good show, the girls showed a lot of fighting spirit. There are four, five boxers who we feel can go a long way. We will keep our focus on them and ensure they can live up to their potential.”Even though most of them are pursuing their studies, the coach is happy with the girls and said that they are in the sport with big ambitions.
“They are well prepared. They have a firm head on their shoulders. They know this is an important stage in their career.”
Lalita (69 kg), Manisha (64 kg) and Nitu (46-48 kg) were among gold medallists in the women’s section. The former is thrilled and is keen on repeating the feat during the Youth World Championships (Budapest), their next big assignment. “It was a great feeling. Everyone is happy. Very soon I will be joining the senior ranks. I want to keep up this performance and take part in the Olympics,” the 17-year-old said. A happy environment in the camp makes the journey easier for these teenagers, who come from every nook and corner of the country. “The coaches are highly supportive. I can share my problems and I don’t feel like I’m away from home,” silver medallist Sakshi Umesh (81 kg), who hails from Maharashtra, said.
In the men’s side, things were not as bright but they did win three medals. “We barely had much time to prepare, just had about 10-15 days. Even then it was a good experience. It was a tough competition,” coach G Manoharan, asserted. The coach has already looked at ways of improvement and is determined to do better in the future. The youngsters will have a shot at securing YOG tickets during the World Championhips where 10 women and six men have qualified.