While preparing for his second straight Olympics,boxer Vijender Singh misses the anonymity of four years back. As an unknown rookie from a nation not known to dominate the boxing ring,he escaped the radar of his opponents to be the surprise bronze medalist. With little over a month to go for the London Games,as the 26-year-old looks forward to the Indian Olympic squad’s 15-day exposure trip to Ireland,Vijender feels like a marked man.
“Boxers from around the world,especially the ones from Russia and central Asian countries,know my game. They all know my moves and strategy. All my bouts must have been extensively dissected,” he says. To deal with this situation,Vijender these days spends countless hours with his long-time coach BI Fernandes,who has come up with a simple solution to this complex problem. “He has asked me to concentrate on my footwork. In case I am sure about my movement,it will be tough for my opponents to read my mind,” says Vijender.
Indian boxing’s poster boy has stuck to the same regime that he followed in 2008. In the lead up to the Beijing Games,Vijender traveled to Chinese Taipei with the intention of getting used to the conditions in China. This time around,his last trip abroad happens to be to Dublin. With boxers from other London-bound boxing teams too expected to be at that Ireland Olympics Centre,Vijender expects to get a feel of the competition he would be facing in the coming days.
Taking no chances,the coaches have included Asian games silver medalist Manpreet Singh,who failed to qualify for the Olympics,in the Ireland tour party so that Vijender gets a sparring partner. “I missed Kazakhstan tour as I wanted some rest and wanted to sort out my strategy. It was my marriage anniversary in May and I spent some time with wife during that week. I have not been to Ireland much but I met some Irish boxers during Commonwealth Games and am looking forward to meeting them again,” says the Bhiwani boxer.
Boxers like Ukraine’s Evhen Khytrov,who won the 75 kg gold in last year’s World Championship at Baku and silver medallist Japan’s Ryota Murata will provide tough competition to Vijender. Former world champion Abbos Atoev,a regular boxer in the 81 kg category till 2009,too is a strong medal contender.
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