CHENNAI: Five boxers muscled their way into the last-eight stage of the recently concluded World Championships with one, a young face in the form of Akash Kumar, going on to bag a bronze medal. On paper, the overall performances — considering India’s thirst for success — was far from spectacular but for Narendra Rana, the national chief coach, it was notable enough to leave a positive impression.
“It was quite a good experience. I think the boys did quite well, winning many bouts,” said the 49-year-old, who was overseeing the national team in an elite competition for the first time. After flattering to deceive during the Tokyo Olympics, the Boxing Federation of India made wholesale changes including the appointment of Rana in the support staff. In the absence of Tokyo participants, there were several first-timers in the team.
Rana has noted several pointers after watching his wards in action. “We can do better. We need to focus on our practice, look to improve our foot movement and counter-punches. With most of the gold medallists, we observed that their percentage of foot movement was quite high and they used counter-punches effectively. We have to take note of that,” he said.
In the coming days, Rana is intent on improving the tactical side of the game of his wards. He felt his wards should be smart operators inside the ring and approach a bout based on their opponent on the day. “I sincerely believe we are on par with the best when it comes to physical fitness but where I feel we fall short is tactics. The boxers should know how to box against opponents from different countries with different styles. It’s not the fault of the boxers if they fall short on tactics. It is the coaches’ job to understand those tactics, implement in training and tell them how to go about it. That’s what we plan to put in practice when the next camp begins.”
The seasoned coach, who has uncovered many talents over the years, is also intent on pushing his wards to gain self-belief. “Our boys possess plenty of talent. I feel we just need to motivate them. We can become world champs. We had fresh faces in our team and even then, they did alright. I believe they will learn a lot from this experience and we could do well at the 2022 Asiad and CWG.”
One boxer who tasted the unforgiving competition was Deepak Bhoria (51kg). “Akash ended up a medallist and he earned it for obvious reasons. Apart from him, Deepak is seriously a good talent. I felt we could have a few more medals but we were a little unlucky. I felt some of the decisions also went against us. Sanjeet got injured, he could have also won,” Rana noted.
Women’s camp in Delhi
Finally, the women’s national camp is set to be held sometime this week. The letter has been sent to Sports Authority of India’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme. As discussed in this daily, Bhaskar Bhatt will be the chief coach and head a big team of around 14 coaches. The camp has been approved from November 6 to December 20 and will be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi.