|The Young Turks of Indian boxing, Shiva Thapa (56kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) continued their winning streak at the AIBA Asian Olympic Qualifying Event in Astana, Kazakhstan on Thursday (12th Apr 2012). The two teenage boxers, who have already qualified for the 2012 London Games by making it to the finals of the championship, capped off a brilliant performance scaling the summit in the bantam weight and the light heavy weight division respectively.
Indian pugilists scripted a new chapter in the country?s boxing history with seven boxers? the largest number ever, qualifying for the Olympics on Wednesday (11th Apr 2012). Thapa and Sangwan, the youngest two of the Indian squad did not stop at there but went one up to claim the yellow metal in their respective weight categories. While Shiva devoured 2010 Asian Games bronze medallist Wessam Salamana of Syria with some quality boxing, Sumit overpowered another bronze medal winner at the 2010 Asian Games Jakhon Qurbanov of Tajikistan.
Thapa, who claimed some big scalps en route to the finals ? he beat Athens Olympics silver medallist and 2010 Asian Games winner Worapoj Petchkoon of Thailand in the quarter-finals and drubbed Beijing Olympics participant and 2009 Asian Championship bronze medallist Satoshi Shimizu of Japan in the semis ? was brimming with confidence and looking end on a high. He started slow against the fast paced Syrian boxer, but capitalized once again, with his counter attacks, taking a slender one point lead after the opening round (5:4). The 2010 Youth Olympic silver medallists displayed some great hand eye coordination and exceptional timing ? his left hand jab proving to be the potent weapon. Shiva had a three point advantage (10:7) going into the final round, which prompted Salamana to go all out. But the Indian was up to challenge; he was firm with his defence and accurate with his counter attacks. He went on to take the bantam weight title with a total score of 18:11.
Sangwan who was up against a very experienced Qurbanov played out a brilliant bout with a good combination offence and defence. It was a methodical start by the Indian, trying to find his range. There was not much separating the two boxers with only a point difference between them, after the opening three minutes (2:1). Sumit, who had the lead, did not let Qurbanov get inside and play his natural game. Both threw in some good punches and combinations and yielded five points each in the second round. In the final round though, Sangwan took the game away from Qurbanov. He frustrated the Syrian with his solid defence and counter attacked on almost every occasion, wearing his opponent down. He finally won the gold medal with a 14:9 victory.
These young guns of Indian boxing have shown immense talent and excellent understanding of the game which makes them fine future prospects for India. Coach GS Sandhu, expectedly was greatly pleased with the performance of his young wards and stated, ?Shiva and Sumit have shown great maturity for their age; the way they read their opponents and adapt is extra ordinary. Both the lads are very good with their timing and counter attacks. They are great future prospects for India?. Talking about India?s performance the Dronacharya awardee said, ?I am very happy with the way our boys have performed, we were expecting one or two qualification, but three is a very good number. The road ahead to London is critical and we have to train well, our preparation will be our only focus now?.
Earlier in the tournament Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh (75kg), booked his ticket to the London Games after having gotten rid of 2011 Asian Championship silver medallist Chuluuntumur Tumurkhyag of Mongolia in the quarter-finals. But the 26 year old lost in the semi-finals to Nursahat Pazziyev of Turkmenistan and had to settle for a bronze medal finish.
2010 Asian Games silver medallist Manpreet Singh (91kg) and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) also had to be content with a bronze medal after losing out in the semi-finals.