hiva Thapa (60kg) secured himself an unprecedented fourth successive medal, while veteran L Sarita Devi (60kg) made the semifinals for the first time in nearly a decade to continue India’s stupendous run at the Asian Boxing Championships here on Tuesday. In all, eight Indian boxers — four women and four men — advanced to the medal rounds on day two of quarterfinals.
The 25-year-old Thapa defeated Thailand’s Rujakran Juntrong in a one-sided lightweight (60kg) contest. He prevailed 5-0 and has a tough semifinal lined up against Kazakhstan’s Zakir Safiullin, a silver-medallist from the 2015 edition.
Thapa had won a gold in 2013, a bronze in 2015 and a silver in the 2017 edition of the marquee continental event. He is the first Indian to achieve the incredible feat.
In the women’s draw, former world champion Sarita, who last reached the Asian semis back in 2010 and ended with a gold, defeated Kazakhstan’s Rimma Volossenko in a split decision to advance.
Former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen (51kg) too booked her maiden semifinal berth at the tournament, beating Kazakhstan’s Nazym Kyzaibay in the quarters.
Last edition’s silver-medallist Manisha (54kg) also secured herself at least a bronze by defeating Filipino Petecio Zzaa Nice, while former national champion Simranjit Kaur (64kg) edged past a gritty Ha Thi Linh of Vietnam to make the last four.
Joining Thapa in the men’s semifinals were Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg) and Ashish (69kg).
Ashish Kumar got the better of Kyrgyzstan’s Omerbek Uulu Behzhigit in a unanimous verdict, while his namesake trounced Vietnam’s Tran Duc Tho 5-0, displaying an impeccable counter-attacking game.
In the evening session, Satish out-punched Korean Kim Dohyeon, an exhausting showdown that left the Indian with a cut above his right eye.
Thapa, who is also a former world championship bronze-medallist and a two-time national champion, opened the proceedings for India and got busy immediately.
The Indian had a spring in his step as he went about dismantling his clueless opponent.
The technically superior Thapa also seemed to have added some more power to his punches and an aggressive streak which his rival found tough to deal with.
Ashish, on the other hand, was locked in a messy contest with Bekzhigit but was clearly the more accurate of the two boxers, finding favour with all the five judges.
Sarita also endured a draining contest against Volossenko but the veteran from Manipur raised the bar when it mattered to move ahead.
The performance in the championship is a turnaround of sorts for the 37-year-old, who ended without a medal at the world championships in Delhi last year.
However, Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Naman Tanwar (91kg) bowed out after losing his quarterfinal bout to Jordan’s Hussein Eishaish Iashaish 0-5.
In the women’s draw, it was curtains for Nupur (75kg) after she went down to North Korean Pak Un Sim in her quarterfinal bout.