Gold before the Games

Shiva Thapa,Sumit Sangwan win in respective categories at Asian meet

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh | Published: April 13, 2012 12:54:29 am

Going into the Asian Olympic Qualifier in Astana,Shiva Thapa and Sumit Sangwan would have had just one goal on their minds — booking a London ticket. That goal was achieved a couple of days back,when both entered the finals of their respective categories. Far from being satisfied,however,the two teenagers kept the momentum going,striking gold on Friday.

The 18-year-old Shiva (56kg),who is the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics,defeated Syria’s Wessam Salamana 18-11 to clinch his second successive senior international gold medal. 19-year-old Sumit (81kg) then beat Tajikistan’s Dzhakon Qurbanov 14-9 to win his maiden international gold at the senior level.

“It’s a great feeling to win the title. The pressure of qualifying was off my mind and I wanted to finish the tournament on a high,” Shiva told The Indian Express from Astana. While he had already booked a place in the Olympics,Shiva says the victory in the final has added to his preparation for London.

“The Syrian boxer will also be there at London and scoring a win over him has boosted my confidence a lot. Rest all is about how we prepare in next three months. We plan to spend time on our basics and studying videos which we have made during the championship,” he said.

While Thapa was playing in his second senior tournament and is acknowledged to be an up and coming boxer,it is Sumit,who is far less experienced,who has been the find of the tournament. The youngster from Karnal now plans to seek tips from fellow team mate and Beijing Olympian Dinesh Kumar,whom he beat during the trials.

“I know London will be a difficult test as most top ranked boxers are from Europe and America. Dinesh is also in the camp at NIS and once I return,I will surely ask him about his experience and European boxers. Performing well against them will be the key in London,” he said. Based on his team’s performances — three boxers (Vijender,Shiva and Sumit) qualified for London from the tournament — national chief coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu is a relieved man. Sandhu says is now hoping the trend will continue at London too.

Handling pressure

“I am happy we have got three quota places and with two gold medals,I am sure we have made our presence felt at the Asian level. It was a tough competition and I guess my boxers will need rest of at least one week. Then we will think about London. It’s a crucial time for these boxers but we want them to be relaxed too. They have handled pressure well in World Championship in Milan and here at Astana,” he said.

Sandhu also praised the performances in heavyweight (Manpreet Singh) and super heavyweight (Paramjeet Samota) categories despite failing to qualify in those. “Manpreet played very well in his two bouts. But we were unfortunate that there was only one quota in heavyweight and super heavy weight,” Sandhu said.

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