CHENNAI: Physical fitness, apart from the mental aspect, is pivotal in international sport. In a dynamic discipline like boxing, subtle tweaks in muscle exercises can be a game-changer. India’s high performance director Santiago Nieva is working on it. He has stressed on making boxers sharper and stronger, making them more explosive and conditioned to hard blows.
With emphasis on developing a fitness culture, the boxers are set to undergo a physical conditioning camp at the JSW Sports training centre in Bellary from Friday. An 18-member men’s team, with five coaches and two more in the support staff, reached Bellary on Thursday. Nieva is due to join soon. The women’s team will also join the camp, after a few days. Experienced coach CA Kuttappa, who has trained Vijender Singh in the past, is eager to assist the boxers.
“The coach (Nieva) wants to focus on physical conditioning. He has also called an expert from Sweden. Facilities are better here and it will also be a change for the boxers, training in a different place. We could not go to the US (for training). We will get to learn something new at the camp,” Kuttappa told Express. There’s a lot at stake for the boxers, a mix of youth and experience, with the Asian Games on the horizon. With youngsters punching above weight, competition for the No 1 spot is massive. Experienced pro Shiva Thapa, who will be keen to regain top status, is part of the camp.
“We are targeting Asian Games. There will be 4-5 competitions. Whoever performs well there is likely to get the nod. If we have a doubt while taking the big call, we shall hold trials,” Kuttappa said. Like Thapa, 2017 World Championship bronze medallist Gaurav Bidhuri will be looking to gain from this camp. An injury had forced him to watch the Commonwealth Games from the sidelines. He had pleaded for a selection trial, but it was turned down. It has been a tough fight off the ring for the boxer from New Delhi. “During recovery period, we have to sacrifice so many things. We have to miss some part of training. I can’t do weight-training and a few other exercises.
You see others going strong while you have to take it easy. It’s tough and you have to be mentally strong,” Bidhuri said. After a month of rest and mind refreshed, Bidhuri is pumped up to get back to action and regain full strength. “I went to Mumbai and had a month-long session. Now, I’m in good shape,” he said. “It’s (camp) a new thing being implemented by the coach. This is what weightlifting athletes do. It helps build strength and brings more explosiveness in our game.” This blood-pumping activity over the next few weeks should help the boxers be in shape for the tests coming up. firstname.lastname@example.org