On the morning after his 23-18 loss to Irishman Paddy Barnes,Indias punching motor pump Devendro Singh was occupied by a few niggles and a bout of confusion.
I thought I was 3-4 punches ahead at the end of the first round. Par wo toh ulta hi ho gaya! he said of the round that he lost 5-7.
Boxing was Indias big hope,and with none of the seven boxers winning a medal,the mood in the camp was grim and bitter. Several times at these Games the contingent has felt done in by the referee and judges,and Devendro simultaneously heartbroken and apologetic complained about his opponent getting away unfairly.
In the second round he (Barnes) completely managed to dictate terms, Devendro said. Hed hold the hand,and bend down and block the waist,very obvious fouls which were not given, said the
20-year-old of the Irish boxers persistent defensive tactic that appeared to lie somewhere between a wrestlers move and a rugby players scrum-push manoeuvre.
Barnes got a very long rope from the referee,while he,Devendro said,was picked on for his only indiscretion,a headbutt for which he was docked points in the second round.
And yet,despite the gloom over so many near-misses,the brightest spot for India too shone through in this,last,bout. There was no one in the ExCeL arena here the Irish corner not excluded who was not impressed by the young Manipuris seemingly boundless energy and lightning hands.
As the light-flyweight walked away from the ring muttering sab paani ho gaya,sab paani ho gaya,the crowd which had overwhelmingly backed his opponent was spontaneous in its applause,the Irish coaches were free with their words of encouragement,and Barnes himself put a hand on his shoulder.
Hes a real good talent,young and energetic, said the winner of the bronze medal at Beijing 2008 and gold at CWG 2010. I needed to employ my best defence today. His coach had earlier spoken of a detailed strategy of defence and of always pushing Devendro back,as they had sensed danger.
Devendro had in fact beaten Barnes in a couple of practice bouts when the Indian boxers travelled to Ireland ahead of London. I guess after sparring I thought I had figured him out. But the referee didnt believe so, he said after the match.
He had fought till the very end,going into the third round 7 points behind and having out-pointed the Irishman 8-6 in the last. It was his expectations of himself that had provided the push,Devendro said,rather than the realisation that he was the last remaining hope from a team of which much had been expected.
Next Olympics,I will bring back a medal. Pucca, he promised.