CHENNAI : Ashish Kumar was having a hard time while trying to sleep on Tuesday night.
This was not because the 75kg boxer had any disturbance in his mind. It was simply because he had achieved a personal high just a few hours ago.Playing like a seasoned pro, the rookie from Himachal Pradesh had cut apart Kyrgyzstan’s Omurbek Uulu Bekzhigit in the ongoing Asian Championships quarterfinals in Bangkok, ensuring a medal in his very first major event.
“This is a big deal for me. I am thrilled with my performance. My family is also happy for me.”
The feeling of winning a medal was yet to sink in when he planned to retire for the day. “I was so excited, I could barely sleep. Even when I got selected for the team, I had undergone same feeling,” remarked the 24-year-old.
Ashish, his namesake in the 69kg category, too is equally pumped. He too assured himself a medal at the event, and this is also his first taste of success at the elite level. “It’s an amazing feeling. All the hard work done under the guidance of coaches has not gone to waste,” said the Hisar native.The tale of both Ashishs sums up the might of Indian boxers at the continental event so far.
Apart from these two, five other men are also in the running for medals, and they have a solid chance of registering India’s best tally at the event.Having played a pivotal role in making this run possible, national men’s chief coach CA Kuttappa had a big hand in shaping both Ashishs. And he is delighted to see all his wards displaying that hunger. “I can see plenty of aggressiveness. They are not only technically sound, but they have added bite to their punches.”
The AIBA 2-star coach has always stressed on the importance of courage inside the ring. Ever since taking over as head coach late last year, he had been intent on passing on that message to his boxers during the camp. Also, he had a plan in place for each, and assigned coaches based on their requirements.
“We had planned well this time. If you do that, half the battle is won. We knew what each boxer would be up against. They were ready for any scenario.” The women have been no less, with six assured of medals. Having beaten tough rivals, the likes of Nikhat Zareen (51kg), Manisha (54kg) and Sonia Chahal (57kg) have meant business.But high performance director Santiago Nieva knows they can’t party yet. “They have been excellent, but the job is far from over. They should maintain their focus and go for gold.”