Boxers fit and raring to go
London: Tipped to be among the medals in the Olympics, the Indian boxers were brimming with confidence ahead of their campaign which gets underway here tomorrow with Beijing Games bronze medal winner Vijender Singh leading the charge.
The whole team, barring Mary Kom who left for Liverpool, where she is training under the supervision of British coach Charles Atkinson, exuded confidence and showed positive body language.
After the weigh-in, Mary Kom went back to Liverpool and will return on August 2, said PK Muralidharan Raja, Indian Amateur Boxing Federation Secretary who has also been made the Acting Chef de Mission with the original nominee Ajitpal Singh being indisposed.
Shiva Thapa (Bantamweight-56kg) and 2008 bronze medallist Vijender Singh (Middleweight-75kg) will be the first boxers to go into action tomorrow.
The poster-boy of Indian boxing Vijender sounded confident as he said, "Our minds are set on winning medals. We are fit, there are no weight issues. We have got a lot of support from the federation, sponsors and the media and we are ready for the challenge."
Rest of the boxers, when asked how they felt on the eve of the competition, were virtually unanimous in saying that they had received excellent support from everybody and said, "We will do our best."
Coach P S Sandhu, who has been at the helm through the rise of Indian boxing, said, "There are no excuses. All in for, good shape. We are positive."
"I never thought I would see this day when we would have boxers in seven of the 10 men?s category. We also have one woman boxer. It shows the growth of the sport and we have received support from everyone over the last few years," Sandhu added.
Raja said, "Having seven boxers in 10 categories is 70
per cent. Since 2004 boxing has shown progress. We did well at the 2006 Asian Games, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and then 2010 Asian Games and Commonwealth. At Athens we felt that we needed to work on the strategy aspect and our coaches have done a great job. We now have a system that starts looking for talent at the grass roots level.
"As for medals it all depends on a lot of things. I don`t want to mention any number but we will do better than last time when we had one medal. Remember each round for the boxers is like a final and there is no second chance. So let us not put pressure on them," he said.
Vijender is making a appearance in his third Olympic Games and is very keen on bettering his bronze medal performance in 2008. He also won the 2010 Asian Games gold.
The diminutive boxer MC Mary Kom, mother of twin sons, has moved from 48kg to 51kg. She won the world title five times in the lighter category as women`s boxing makes a debut in London.
She was lucky to get into the Olympics after losing early in the last World Championships, which was also the first she returned from without a medal. So she has a lot to fight for and one of her main rivals will be Great Britain`s Nicola Adams.
There are 10 weight classes for the male boxers, from light flyweight to super heavyweight while the female boxers will compete in three weight divisions, flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.
The competition will start tomorrow and will end on August 12. A total of 286 boxers are taking part with 250 men and 36 women participating in the competition.
The men`s bouts will take place over three rounds of three minutes while the women`s bouts will have four rounds of two minutes each.