After days of disappointing news of pullouts of star athletes and slashing of the jumbo contingent, India is all set to embrace the prestigious multidisciplinary sporting event, the Asian Games with a lot of enthusiasm, hope and gusto. India’s performances in multi-sporting events have improved over the years and the last Asian Games at Guangzhou in 2010 set the bar high with India’s record haul of 65 medals.
From the Olympics to the Commonwealth Games to the Asian Games, boxing has been an ever-dependable and reliable arena for delivering a rich medal haul. In recent times though, the sport has been mired in controversy, with the Indian Boxing association at loggerheads with the world body AIBA.
End of the impasse
Boxing India received provisional recognition from AIBA in May this year and on September 11th, 2014, elections were held under AIBA’s observation with the creation of a new body. The intermediate situation was costly for India as the performance in boxing took a dip and with limited international exposure for the Indian boxers our performance lacked the edge with a gold medal eluding our boxing squad at the recently concluded Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
But now with a fresh governing body, the sport hopes to look up. Even though India’s participation is still under a cloud of doubt, Indian fans are hopeful the election results will ensure participation for the Indian pugilists. Medal expectations are already high, especially with the return of 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Mary Kom and 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Akhil Kumar.
Hopes pinned on Mary Kom
The five-time World boxing champion Mary Kom who missed out on a berth in the Commonwealth Games, is upbeat and is determined to bring the yellow metal from Incheon in the 51 kg. ‘’Our preparation has been good so far and we are looking forward to the games. I am definitely aiming for gold medal and a bronze will certainly not suffice this time,’’ Mary Kom said recently. L. Sarita Devi who secured a CWG silver medal has a shot at a medal in the 60kg category among the women.
Return of Akhil Kumar – The Showman of Indian Boxing
The men’s team did suffer a setback with the absence of one of their biggest stars Vijender Singh but the team heading to Incheon is nonetheless bubbling with confidence. Akhil Kumar’s comeback has been welcome news for the squad. Injuries have marred his chances in recent times but the 2008 Olympic quarter-finalist looks to deliver in the 60kg as he says, ‘’I feel very fit, very determined and very focused.’’
Akhil Kumar has been a fan favorite ever since he beat the reigning Olympic Champion at the Beijing Olympic Games. It will be exciting to see how the 33 year old Akhil fares against the younger lot of boxers.
The talented youngsters Devendro Singh and Mandeep Jangra who showed a lot of promise and secured silver medals at Glasgow also offer a lot of hope as far as India’s medals are concerned.
Men: L Devendro Singh (49kg), Gaurav Bhiduri (52kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Akhil Kumar (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg), Mandeep Jangra (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg), Kuldeep Singh (81kg), Amritpreet Singh (91kg), Satish Kumar (91kg).
Women: M C Mary Kom (51kg), L Sarita Devi (60kg), Pooja Rani (75kg).