Vijender, Akhil settle for bronze in Arafura Games

Vijender Singh (81kg) and Akhil Kumar (56kg) settled for bronze medals after losing in the semifinals.

New Delhi: Vijender Singh (81kg) and Akhil Kumar (56kg) settled for bronze medals after losing in the semifinals but women kept India`s chances of a boxing gold in the Arafura Games alive as all three advanced to the finals of their respective categories in Darwin, Australia on Thursday.

On a disappointing day for the men, Vijender and Akhil bowed out with contrasting defeats.

While Vijender lost 16-17 to New Zealand Sam Rapira in a thrilling encounter, Akhil went down 13-24 to Australian Balla Ibrahim.

But Pinki Jhangra (51kg), Meena Rani (60kg), Pooja Rani (75kg) advanced to the finals, keeping India`s hopes for gold afloat.

Among the men, Akhil was the first to enter the ring on Thursday and though he left his rival bloodied, the 29-year-old trailed in points count.

He was down 4-7 in the opening three minutes before the gap widened to 8-15 and 13-24 ultimately.

"I gave it my all but in the end, it`s a loss. I am disappointed with the result but not with my effort. It was a good bout. I was competing after seven months and I am satisfied, I hope to peak as more tournaments come," Akhil said from Darwin.
Vijender`s bout was a closer affair. The scores were tied 4-4 in the opening round with Rapira withstanding some harsh blows from the Indian.

The Olympic and World Championship bronze-medallist Indian took a point`s lead in the second round but the Kiwi boxer managed to sneak away with a win by notching up a couple of crucial points in the final three minutes.
This was the 25-year-old`s first international event in the 81kg category. The Haryana-lad is world number one in the 75kg division and will return to it for Olympic qualifiers later this year.