The confidence and calm demeanour belied their tender age as just-concluded AIBA World Youth Championships gold-medallist Sachin Singh and bronze-winner Naman Tanwar declared themselves India’s next big boxing hopes and set their sights on 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
At a felicitation function organised by Sports Minister Vijay Goel, the two boxers, who returned this morning from St Petersburg, Russia, were throughly enjoying their first moments in spotlight flanked by Boxing Federation of India President Ajay Singh.
The 17-year-old Sachin (49kg) was expectedly the cynosure of all eyes and answered the numerous queries thrown at him just like the brilliant ring-craft he displayed at the World event.
“I had a slight shoulder injury that I picked up in the second round fight. It was nothing serious and I was well taken care of. The semifinal bout was the toughest that I fought but beyond that there was nothing that I could call tough,” said Sachin, who beat Cuban national champion Jorge Grinan in the final.
Similar was the confidence exuded by Naman (91kg), who was competing in his first international tournament after taking up boxing to lose weight.
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“I was very sure that I would win a medal, there was never any doubt. I was a little unwell after reaching Russia because of the change in weather. I had cough and cold and that affected my body, had I been 100 per cent fit, I would have won a better medal,” said the youngster, who lost to Cuba’s Dainier Christian in the semifinal.
The Minister felicitated both of them with mementos. They were also presented cash awards by BFI. Perhaps impressed by their confidence, Goel was quick to declare them as India’s medal prospects for Tokyo 2020.
“I think two medal prospects have been identified for Tokyo 2020. I congratulate BFI and the boxers for the brilliant performance,” he said.
Of the two, Naman will be eligible for entry into the senior national camp given that he is close to touching 19 after the National Championships conclude next month.
“These two boys gave a fantastic performance. Sachin especially was in phenomenal form,” said national youth coach G Manoharan.
Sachin, who hails from that famous citadel of Indian boxing Bhiwani, said facing a Cuban boxer in the final was no big deal for him after beating the reigning junior world champion in the semis.
“I know Cuba has a reputation but that hardly matters in the ring. I had worked hard on my footwork plus I have the height advantage. He was way shorter and I had prepared well on how to tackle him,” he said.
Ask him about the burden of expectations given that he is only the third Indian boxer ever to win a gold at these Championships, Sachin shrugged it off with a smile.
“I enjoy pressure and I am confident that I would make it big by 2020. Youth is the tomorrow of Indian boxing and I am that tomorrow,” he said.