They were expected to fetch India quite a few medals in the Olympic Games,but a bronze from M C Mary Kom was all that the eight-strong boxing contingent managed at the swanky Excel Arena here.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the boxers when they left for the Games,so the results will no doubt come as a huge let down with all the male boxers returning empty-handed.
The 29-year-old Mary Kom,a five time world champion,was the saving grace for the contingent as she clinched a historic bronze in women’s boxing which was introduced in the Olympics for the first time.
Mary Kom had to go through a physically stressful transition to be eligible for Olympics by jumping from 48kg to 51kg. And the mother-of-twins put up a sterling show against boxers who were much taller and heavier than her.
But the seven male boxers could not go beyond the quarterfinal stage and the Indian camp claims that many of them were at the receiving end of some dubious judgements.
Although some of the Indian boxers were distinctly unlucky,it was not always the reason for their defeats.
Beijing bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg) was hoping to become the first Indian to bag back-to-back Olympic medals but he lost to Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev 17-13 in the quarterfinal.
The young L Devendro Singh (49kg) was the only other pugilist to make it to the quarterfinals where he fought bravely before going down to Paddy Barnes of Ireland in a contest marred by debatable refereeing.
“There were so many mistakes against our boxers. He (Barnes) was not hitting the right spots and still getting points. It was not fair,” said India’s Cuban coach B I Fernandez.
“The refereeing was poor,not only in this bout but many other Indian bouts. It is very sad,but we have to live with it. The opponent was clearly holding,but he didn’t say anything. It’s very difficult. We deserved to get a medal here,” he added.
Fernandez was also miffed by a controversial warning to Devendro in the second round for head-butting. It was all the more shocking because Barnes had himself head-butted the Indian first but that was overlooked by the referee.
The other boxers had mixed fortunes in the event. Sumit Sangwan (81kg),Vikas Krishan (69kg) and Manoj Kumar (64kg) were a trifle unlucky as they were victims of some dubious point calls.
But all said and done,it was a poor show by the boxers as they were expected to do much better than this.
Coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu said he was happy with the performance of the boxers though he took full responsibility for the team not winning enough medals.
“We had come for medals. We are very grateful to Mary Kom who has come to our rescue and got a medal,” he said.