MUMBAI: Boxer Vikas Krishan Yadav today said the pressure of expectations got to him at the Rio Olympics where he crashed out in the quarter-finals of the 75kg class.
"There's always pressure on us (boxers). There was a lot of pressure on me and because of the pressure I could not perform well in the Rio Olympics," said the 24-year-old Haryana boxer at a joint press conference addressed by him, bronze medal winning woman wrestler Sakshi Malik and young javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra.
Vikas is a much-decorated boxer at the international level that includes a gold medal in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in the lightweight (60kg) class and a bronze at the 2011 World Championship (69kg) in Baku, Azerbaijan.
In last month's Rio Games the pugilist, who hails from the boxing nursery of Bhiwani, won two bouts in the round of 32 and round of 16 before losing 0-3 to eventual silver medallist Bektemir Melikuziev in the quarter-finals to finish outside the medal bracket for the second Games running.
"I am very sad I could not win a medal. My aim is to win a medal in the Olympic Games. I will not think about turning professional till then or until someone pushes me out (of the weight class)," said the boxer, who defeated USA's Charles Conwell and Turkey's Onder Sipal with identical 3-0 margins before coming up against Uzbek Melikuziev.
He bemoaned the absence of a recognised boxing federation following the collapse of Boxing India two years ago.
"Now there's no boxing federation. JSW (Sports) supported me. I will continue in the 75kg. Uptil 69kg, the focus is on speed but from 75 it's on power," said Vikas who won bronze in the middleweight class in the 2014 Incheon Asiad.
Sakshi, one of two medallists for India at the Rio Games where she won a bronze medal in the 58kg class, was confident of overcoming whatever pressure will now be on her after becoming the trailblazer for women's wrestling.
"The pressure is going to increase now. It will double or even treble. But I am confident that I will overcome it and try to do well in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo," said the 24- year-old wrestler from Rohtak.
Sakshi, not among those touted as medal hopes before the Games by even followers of wrestling, said she was confident of winning a medal although the limelight was on Phogat sisters, Babita Kumari and Vinesh.
"Yes, the focus was on them, but I was confident of doing well," said the silver medalist at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Sakshi lost her quarter-final bout against eventual finalist Valeria Koblova of Russia, but she got a second chance to fight for the bronze through repechage and grabbed it with both hands to climb the podium with successive wins over Pürevdorjiin Orkhon of Mongolia and Asian champion Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan.
Against Tynybekova, Sakshi looked down and out when she trailed 0-5 till the last minute before fighting her way back brilliantly to score an 8-5 victory in the bronze play- off.
Mentioning India's first and only back-to-back Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar as her idol, Sakshi said the training camp she attended before the Games in Bulgaria and Spain was an eye opener as she witnessed how two Japanese girls trained.
"Those two Japanese wrestlers were very disciplined in diet and the supplements they took. They showed me when to eat and what to eat," said Sakshi who, too, is supported by JSW Sports.
Asked about shift in attitude in her home state towards girls taking up to a physical sport like wrestling, Sakshi said things have undergone a sea change after her bronze medal finish.
"I have seen a sea change in the attitude towards girls taking to wrestling. When I started we were only 5-6 girls in wrestling. The change started after the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Now we have two mats and a lot many girls."
Javelin thrower Neeraj, who set the junior world record when he hurled the spear to 86.48m in the World U-20 Championship in Poland in July, said had he done it a week earlier he would have made it to Rio.
"My throw (in Poland) would have fetched me a medal (bronze) in Rio. I have learned by watching the videos of top javelin throwers," said the athlete, who is also supported by JSW.