New Delhi: Heartbroken after missing out on what would have been his second successive Olympic medal, star Indian boxer Vijender Singh on Thursday said inconsistent judging affected the morale of Indian pugilists who drew a blank at the mega-event in London.
The former middleweight (75kg) world number one, who won India its first Olympic boxing medal in Beijing four years ago, lost in the quarterfinals in London, but felt the performance was better than what transpired in the Chinese capital.
"That`s sport, it happens. But I am satisfied that I gave my 100 per cent. There was nothing lacking in the effort that I put in the ring. I don`t think there is any shame in losing after you have given it your all," the 26-year-old said.
The seven Indian boxers who made the cut for London, were the biggest-ever team from the country to qualify from India.
They were touted as strong medal contenders but all the seven bowed out by the quarterfinal stage in London. It was left to the sole woman representative, M C Mary Kom (51kg), to get a bronze for Indian boxing.
The men were undone by some inconsistent judging which also left many other teams fuming, forcing the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to suspend a couple of judges and overturn the result of two bouts.
Vijender said the team was affected adversely when Sumit Sangwan (81kg) lost a close opening bout and the subsequent appeal against the original decision was rejected.
"At the biggest event of all, such things should not have happened. To my mind, Sumit, Manoj Kumar (64kg) and L Devendro Singh (49kg) had won their bouts but did not get scores. The system was harsh on us and this inconsistent judging affected the team`s morale," he said.
"Had the judging been consistent and some close decisions gone our way, the result would have been very different. It is quite heartbreaking but I would say our performance was even better than Beijing," he asserted.
The Indians fell victim to some controversial officiating during the Games, marred by inconsistent scoring and refereeing.
To start with, the country`s appeal against the close opening-round loss of Sumit was rejected. Later, Vikas Krishan`s (69kg) pre-quarterfinal win was overturned following an appeal by the rival American team.
The Indians took the matter to Court of Arbitration through a preliminary email, but after getting legal advice they decided to drop the matter.
Next up, Manoj lost a hard-fought contest to home favourite Thomas Stalker and cried "cheating, cheating, cheating".
The Commonwealth Games gold-medallist was defeated despite seemingly dominating the bout and was also hard-done by refereeing as his rival was not warned for what appeared to be excessive bending.
"Manoj performed so well and so did Devendro but we were left baffled by the system. It should have been better given that it is Olympics," he said.
Vijender will now be going up a division to 81kg as he is "bored" of competing in middleweight.
"I had thought of shifting my weight category before the Games. I have done enough in middleweight and I feel now it`s time to try my hand at something new. I can eat more by going up a division," he laughed.
"Anyways, I was bored of 75kg, I had fought with all the top guys in this division and it`s been quite a while, so I had made up my mind that medal or no medal, I would go up a division," he said.
But for now, the pin-up boy of Indian boxing just wants a break from the ring.
"I have not had a decent break since my marriage last year. So, for the next few weeks, I would just relax and eat. Then I would get back to training in a new weight category and hopefully start a new success story," he signed off.