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Knockout before games: Shiva Thapa, Gaurav Bidhuri miss spot in Commonwealth Games squad

Two of India’s four World Championship medallists Shiva and Bidhuri  miss out on India boxing squad for Commonwealth Games

Published: 01st March 2018 06:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st March 2018 06:06 AM   |  A+A-

Shiva Thapa (left) lost to Manish Kaushik in the national championship and the India Open tournament that was held in New Delhi recently

Express News Service

CHENNAI: If you take any sport in India, there is a soft corner towards established stars whether or not they are in form. Take MS Dhoni’s case for example. Despite the veteran’s slump in shorter formats, the selectors continue to pick the 36-year-old. While experience does matter and can play a vital role in major tournaments, it is unfair on the next generation who are waiting in line to spread their wings.

This is a huge year for India with the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games lined up. Indian boxing has been doing well with many medals at the India Open and the recently concluded Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament. On Wednesday, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) announced the squad for the CWG in a bold move where two household names in Gaurav Bidhuri and Shiva Thapa — two of India’s four World Championship medallists in men’s section — did not make the cut. This was also the first time that a conventional trials was not held before announcing the squad.

While this is the first time that such a step has been taken, a top source told Express that their omission is based purely on recent performances. “As far as Shiva is concerned, Manish Kaushik who is in his weight category has been doing exceptionally well. He even beat Shiva twice (Nationals and India Open). When the boxer is in such a good form, there is no need to think twice. He has earned his spot,” the source said.   

“Bidhuri had many opportunities to prove as well. The World Championships bronze medallist has been out of action since August last year after he picked up a back injury. He was also forced to miss the National Championships, India Open and the Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament. He has not been sparring for some time and is just getting back to the groove. It’s not possible for him to make a comeback directly in a high profile competition (CWG) such as this,” the source added.

While most boxers were selected based on a points system that started before the men’s National Championships last year, trials will be held for men’s in the 52 kg and 91 kg on March 1 and 4. The federation’s decision to drop the 57 kg and 75 kg category (women’s section) in order to keep up with the specific size of the contingent was not well received by some of the boxers. Sonia Lather’s (57 kg), omission raised eyebrows as she has a proven track record in the international arena — silver medals in 2016 World Championships and 2017 Asian Championships. Sonia was understandably downcast and it looks like the federation is not going to change their stand.

“Most of the countries don’t conduct selection trials. They are selected for competitions based on their results in international competitions. The federation and boxers had a discussion regarding omission of selections this year and a mutual agreement was made,” the source said.

Squad   
Men: Amit Panghal (49kg), Mohammed Hussamuddin (56kg), Manish Kaushik (60kg), Manoj Kumar (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg).
Women: MC Mary Kom (48kg), Lovlina Borgoahin, L Sarita Devi (60kg). TBD: Men’s: 91kg — Sumit Sangwan/Naman Tanwar, 52kg — Gaurav Solanki/Salman Sheikh. Women’s: 51kg

Delight for Manish
Manish Kaushik was delighted when Express contacted him. “They were saying they had a meeting. But I didn’t know that I am in the squad. I am waiting for everyone to comeback so that I can confirm the news. I can’t wait to tell my parents.”

vimalsankar@newindianexpress.com   



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