After winning laurels for the country at the AIBA world championships and securing Olympic berths in Baku, Azerbaijan, two Indian boxers were inducted into the ‘Samsung Olympic Ratna’ program in the capital on Thursday. The program is an initiative by Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Limited, whereby the company will provide scholarship support to sportspersons in their preparation for the 2012 London Olympics. Asian Games gold medallist Vikas Krishan and rookie boxer L Devendro Singh are among six athletes chosen to be a part of the programme. Apart from the two boxers, three shooters including, Beijing Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, 2010 Commonwealth Games multiple gold medal winner Gagan Narang, World Champion Ronjan Sodhi along with archer Deepika Kumari – all of who have already qualified for the London games – are a part of the program.
Sharing the stage with India's first and only individual Olympic gold medallist, Vikas was all praises for Bindra, for achieving the tremendous feat. The Haryana lad, who was immensely glad to be part of the program, stated the he wished to replicate Bindra’s performance at the upcoming London Games. He added, “It is amazing what Abhinav has achieved for the country and for himself. Just being in his company one feels honoured. My ultimate dream, like every other athlete, is to win an Olympic medal and will try my level best to attain it at London”.
Vikas who recently jumped to world number two in the welter weight division, by virtue of his bronze medal winning performance at the world championships said that his main focus at the training camps will now be to toughen his game and make sure he is at par with the best in terms of strength and stamina. He further stated, “Speed and strategy is a potent weapon that I have, but I need to increase my strength and endurance especially after changing my weight category”.
The 19 year old shot into prominence at the 2010 Asian Games bagging a gold medal in the light weight category (60kg), in his debut tournament at the senior level. Since then though, he has changed his weight to welter weight division (69kg) – a calculative decision he had to make considering the changes in his physical framework, “I am still developing physically, and it was difficult for me to maintain my weight at 60kg. Since Manoj Kumar was already an established name in the in 64kg class, I decided to move up two categories”, he stated.
The Samsung Scholarship Program will be patterned on the lines of the Olympic Solidarity Fund and will support the training expenses of the players till the 2012 Olympics. Indian Olympic Association President, Mr. Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Secretary General Raja Randhir Singh were present at the function, which lauded the achievement of the six athletes. The Olympic program was flagged off at the event and a MoU was signed between Samsung and IOA, for the company to become the ‘Olympic Partner’ for the Indian contingent to the London Olympics Games.
Mr Singh believes it is a great initiative undertaken by Samsung, who have been very consistent in their support of the Olympic movement in India, and the program will benefit the athletes a great deal. Talking about boxing he added, “The sport has come up very strongly in the recent years, with our boxers’ performing consistently in the international arena. I am looking forward to a few more qualifications pertinent to the upcoming Olympics in boxing”.