Shiva Thapa strikes gold at Asian Olympic Qualifiers
New Delhi: Teen boxers Shiva Thapa and Sumit Sangwan struck gold to round off a brilliant performance by India in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan where the country bagged three London tickets to make it an unprecedented seven-strong contingent for the quadrennial extravaganza.
The 18-year-old Shiva (56kg), who is the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics, defeated Syria's Wessam Salamana 18-11 to clinch his second successive senior international gold medal.
The 19-year-old Sumit (81kg) beat Tajikistan's Dzhakon Qurbanov 14-9 to bag his maiden senior international gold in his debut event.
Besides these two, Vijender Singh (75kg) also booked a London berth by making the semifinals of the last qualifiers for the July-August mega-event.
Four Indian boxers -- L Devendro Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Vikas Krishan (69kg) - had already booked their Olympic berths in last year's World Championship.
The Assam-lad, who displayed fantastic reflexes and came up with precise jabs, took a narrow 5-4 lead in the opening round.
Although his rival matched him in aggression, the Indian was more accurate in his placement of punches, winning the second round 5-3 to make it 10-7.
Shiva capitalised on his opponent's draining energy levels in the final three minutes to win comprehensively in the end.
"Shiva put up a fantastic performance. He is a very promising talent," said national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu. Sumit adopted a wait-and-attack approach in his bout, sizing up his rival in the opening three minutes before taking a slender a 2-1 lead.
It remained just a point's lead after the second round as well after Qurbanov clawed his way back to tie it 5-5.
Sumit made an aggressive start to the final round, connecting some telling jabs and left hooks to unsettle his rival and clinch the bout comfortably.
"Youngsters winning gold medals in just first and second senior international event is a good sign for Indian boxing. It shows that Indian boxing's future is in safe hands," said Sandhu.
Two other Indian boxers -- Manpreet Singh (91kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) -- missed out on a London berth and settled for bronze medals in the event.