Laishram Sarita Devi and Laishram Devendro Singh settled for a silver each after losing their respective final bouts as India collected two medals on the concluding day of boxing competitions in the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Satrday.
Sarita lost to Shelley Watts of Australia after a gritty fight in women’s lightweight (57-60kg) category final while her younger brother was beaten by Paddy Barnes of Northern Ireland in the men’s light-flyweight (46-49kg) final at the Hydro Arena.
Devendro was no match for Barnes and the unanimous 3-0 verdict in favour of the Irish reflected that. With the two silver on Saturday, India has bagged three medals from boxing with Pinki Jangra having won a bronze after losing her semifinal bout against Michaela Walsh of Northern Ireland in women’s 51kg category on Friday.
Sarita, a former World Championships silver medallist, dished out a gritty fight as she was on level terms till the midway in the four-round eight-minute bout.
The Manipuri mother of a son, however, lost steam in the later stages and was out-punched by her stronger and taller opponent to settle for a silver. Sarita lost 0-3 in a unanimous verdict of the three judges.
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Sarita received a flurry of punches from Watts in the third and fourth rounds which rattled the Indian and that tilted the scale in favour of her Australian opponent. All the three judges’ identical cumulative scores of 39-37, 39-37, 39-37 were in favour of the Australian.
Devendro again was beaten by 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist Barnes who was victorious in the quarterfinal stage of the 2012 London Olympics.
The 22-year-old Manipuri had come prepared that he would fight against his older ‘friend’ Irishman at one stage of the tournament and it was once again Barnes who won by a unanimous 3-0 verdict of the three judges.
Devendro was at his aggressive self today also but his inferior defence let him down as Barnes began to land his punches on the Indian, who was the shorter of the two. The first two rounds went in favour of Barnes though Devendro tried to make a match out of it.
To his credit, the feisty Devendro never gave up and he even got the nod from two judges but that was that too late in the day to make a fightback against his experienced opponent.
It was nonetheless a commendable show from the Laishram siblings and an emotional Sarita conceded that she lacked the stamina as she came back to competitive boxing after a long lay-off.
“I am sorry I could not win a gold for the country,” Sarita told Indian journalists.
“I came back after two years out of boxing and I got barely four months to train for the Commonwealth Games. I had wanted a gold but could not do it. I have to try for a gold in the Asian Games,” an emotional Sarita said with her eyes moist.
“There was not much recovery time also for me after a late evening semifinal bout on Friday. Towards the end of the bout, my legs were not moving much and I was feeling tightness on my legs. I was tired but I pulled along. I lacked the stamina,” she said.
“Winning a silver in Commonwealth Games was not easy. I won three bouts and won a silver, I will take it. I will have to train harder to do better in the Asian Games. I was about to skip the trials for the CWG but my older brother told me that I can make it to the Indian squad and win a medal. That was how I was in the Games,” said Sarita, who has a one-and-a half year old son Tomthil.
Devendro said it was a fair result and he lost to a better boxer.
“It was a fair result. He (Barnes) beat me. He is a very tough opponent and I had lost to him in London Olympics also. I knew that I have to beat him if I have to win a gold. So I have even trained in India how to beat him. I gave my best but could not beat him,” Devendro said.
“I have to improve upon my technique and trained harder. I hope I can beat him next time we fight,” he said.
“This is my first Commonwealth Games so I’m happy with a silver medal. I’m world number three so I want to keep improving and I’ll focus on Asian Games coming up in September.”
Asked about his ‘friendship’ with Barnes, Devendro said, “When we trained in Ireland, he also came and we trained together. He was my sparing partner. He is my friend and we are in good terms. But once you are in the boxing rind, nobody is a friend,” said Devendro, who hugged Barnes after the bout, said.
Coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said that lack of experience was the reason behind Devendro’s loss.
“It is about lack of experience. Barnes is a very experience player but he is no longer young. Devendro has age in his side and he needs to improve his defense. So with experience will do better in future. Overall, I am satisfied with the performance of the boxers,” he said.
Foreign coach B I Fernandez said Indian boxers would need more competitions before such big events.
“The boxers needed more competition. They lacked in experience. All these boxers like Paddy Barnes are very experienced. I am happy that Devendro put up a very good fight against a boxer like Barnes.”