A boxing gold eluded India at the Commonwealth Games for the first time since 2002 but national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said given the tough circumstances his boys braved in the run up to the event, the three silver medals are no less than gold.
Star pugilist Vijender Singh (75kg) and the Asian silver medal-winning duo of Mandeep Jangra (69kg) and L Devendro Singh (49kg) ended second in the competition after losing in the final of the Games that came to an end yesterday in Glasgow.
Among the women, who made their CWG debut, L Sarita Devi (60kg) and Pinki Jangra (51kg) claimed a silver and a bronze respectively.
“We hardly got any exposure trips before CWG but for the first time in history of the games, we had four boxers in the finals (including Sarita Devi),” Sandhu told PTI in an interview after returning to India.
“Yes, we did not get a gold but given the fact that we had no exposure and no official representation at the Games due to our federation’s termination, for me these silver medals are as good as gold,” he said.
“As a teacher, I would give my boys 8 on a scale of 10,” he added.
The Indian boxers have always won at least one gold since 2002 with the performance touching an all-time high of three gold medals in the 2010 Games in Delhi.
“Expectation of medals is always based on a number of factors. The training of the boxers is obviously the primary factor but so many other things also play a role in how the performance shapes up, which also includes the international exposure,” he said.
“Going into the Games, we had no exposure. The administrative turmoil was also there and had the circumstances been better, we would have definitely got a gold,” added Sandhu.
Reflecting on the performance of his wards, Sandhu said, “They showed a big heart, all of them. They were fearless and though a few things did not go as planned in the final bouts, overall it’s a performance worth being proud of.”
Sandhu was also seconding for the women boxers, who did not have their national coach for company at the Games.
“Only AIBA certified 3 star coaches can accompany the boxers on the ringside. Since I was the only one among the support staff with that certificate, I had to accompany the girls also. I was happy to see their performance too even though it meant some extra load on me,” he said.
The coach hardly has any time to relax given that he has to be in Patiala for the upcoming Asian Games trials from August 9 to 11.
“Where is the time to celebrate or relax. I have given the boys a day off and told them to be back in Patiala tomorrow.
The trials are upon us and we have to send our entries by August 13. The gap is too little,” Sandhu said referring to the Asian Games, scheduled to be held in the Korean city of Incheon from September 19.