New Delhi: He is disappointed at missing out on a gold medal but one lasting memory that Indian boxer Shiva Thapa would take back from the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore is meeting star Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who is a brand ambassador for the event.
Shiva settled for a silver in the bantam weight (54kg) division after losing 2-5 in the finals to Cuba’s Ramirez Robeisy Aloy, who had defeated the Indian at the Youth World Championships just three months ago as well.
A Mike Tyson fan, Shiva says he is disappointed at having to settle for silver and more so after losing to the same opponent for a second successive time.
“I am not happy. I came for the gold here,” the 17-year-old Assamese told a news agency over phone after his bout.
“It was 2-3 in the second round but then I don’t know how I lost it. It is very disappointing. The last time we fought I lost by a bigger margin because I had an injured hand. This time I was fit but the luck was not with me. But I gave it my all. It was closer then the last time but I couldn’t go the distance,” he said.
But as the talk veers towards his experience at the Games, where only a select few got to compete after rigorous qualification tournaments, an excited Shiva says he comes back an improved and more confident athlete.
“I met Isinbayeva, which is something I would remember forever. She is so tall, it was during an interaction that she asked me ‘what’s your dream?’ I told her that I want to be a champion. I also met other Olympic champions who came here to support the Games. It is something that would be with me all forever,” he said.
Isinbayeva is a two-time Olympic champion and has 27 world records to her credit, which has prompted many to dub her as the greatest pole vaulter of all time.
“The whole experience was just fantastic. Being here with so many international stars and athletes felt very good. But I should have got the gold,” added the teen, who will make the transition to the senior level next year.
Another memorable part of the trip to Singapore, according to Shiva, was seeing a mini-India there.
“There are so many Indians in Singapore. I was so surprised to see them and they came to support us also. I didn’t feel home sick at all,” he laughed.