CHENNAI: It’s crunch time for all athletes aspiring for 2020 Olympics. And it’s no different for Indian boxers, who will face their first major examination — Asian Championship in Bangkok — this year.
How they perform in the continental event, which kicks off on Friday, could shape their future. And they enter the tournament with plenty of optimism. National men’s chief coach CA Kuttappa believes his wards can muscle their way to glory. “We’ve been training since the start of the year, and it has gone well.
The boys also participated in some international meets and did quite well. I’m confident that they can win a good number of medals.”Kuttappa’s faith in his wards is not misplaced. In the last year or so, their stocks have risen with some medal-winning shows. Also, competition within the national camp has ensured that they’re in the best shape.
One boxer who has grown from strength to strength since his debut in 2017 is Amit Panghal. However, the 23-year-old from Haryana will be competing in a higher weight category, shifting from 49kg to 51kg. The latter is part of the Olympics programme, and the Asian Games gold medallist will be hoping for a smooth transition.
Shiva Thapa is another who deserves a mention, even though he has not been in the best of form of late. The three-time medallist has experience and will hope to use that to his advantage. Even though MC Mary Kom won’t be there, there’s no dearth of talent in the women’s corner. It’s a good blend of youngsters and seniors. World Championship medallists Sonia Chahal and Lovlina Borgohain will look to prove that those hits were no fluke. Veteran L Sarita Devi, though, has been a shadow of her former self, having failed at Worlds and CWG.
National coach Mohammed Ali Qamar is aware of the talent in store, but is not counting his chickens before they hatch. “The competition will be tough given that Olympics is near. Every boxer from all nations will be intent on doing well.”The men had won four medals (two silver and bronze each) in the previous edition. The women had won seven (one gold, one silver and five bronze).
Women: Nitu (48kg), Nikhat Zareen (51kg), Manisha (54 kg), Sonia Chahal (57 kg), L Sarita Devi (60kg), Simranjit Kaur (64kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Nupur (75kg), Pooja Rani (81kg), Seema Punia (+81kg).
Men: Deepak (49kg) Amit Panghal (52kg), Kavinder Singh Bisht (56kg), Shiva Thapa (60kg), Rohit Tokas (64kg), Ashish (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Brijesh Yadav (81kg), Naman Tanwar (91kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg).