CHENNAI: Though he's yet to get a fresh contract, it looks like the uncertainty surrounding Santiago Nieva's — India men's boxing high-performance director (HPD) — future is over.
According to a Boxing Federation of India (BFI) official, the Swede is set to continue his association with Indian boxing, at least till the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Nieva's initial contract was till the Tokyo Olympics and the AIBA 3-star coach was handed a two-month contract extension until the World Championships, which was held in Serbia. Since then, he has been away from the camp and is currently in Sweden.
It is understood that Nieva was preferred to continue given the fact that he is well-versed with the boxing culture in the country, having been here since the summer of 2017. With his scientific approach to the sport, he has helped many boxers to medal at various marquee events.
"It's not officially finalised yet but it looks more than certain that he'll continue. He has been in India for the last four to five years. He understands the system here. It's paramount for him to continue," the official said when asked about his status.
It is understood that the BFI's immediate priority is to get the Nieva deal finalised at the earliest. It is also understood that the federation and the SAI are keen to get high-performance directors at all levels — senior, youth and junior — in both the men's and women's categories.
"We are actively having discussions in regards to coaches for now. Even the SAI is interested and has told us about appointing high performance directors at all levels (senior, youth and junior). Even the BFI is keen and would want to get at least two to three high-performance directors. But discussions are at an early stage now and we're working on it," the official revealed.
BFI's main priority was to send the boxers (at all levels) to as many international events as possible so that they can learn from their travels. But the emergence of the third wave of Covid-19 has hindered their plans. At the ongoing national camp in Patiala, many have contracted the virus. The BFI was also forced to cancel the boxers' trip to Tashkent for the upcoming Asian U-22 Championships.
"We wanted more international exposure. We want our boxers to take part in every major international tournament. It's part of the ACTC as well and the government has also granted the permission. But the Covid situation is not just making it possible for us," the official added.
The official is hopeful that the situation will be better soon. The next tournament on the horizon is the Asian Youth & Junior Boxing Championships. The continental event is scheduled to be held in Amman (Jordan) from February 27 to March 15.
Having already picked a team in the women's section, the BFI is hopeful that they can conduct the trials for men and participate. "If the Covid situation gets better, we'll definitely send our contingent."
For the rest, regular training will continue till March.