| New Delhi: Just being in the final was enough to fetch him an Olympic berth at the Asian Qualifiers but teen Indian boxer Shiva Thapa (56kg) said his target was never just the London ticket as he was desperate to hear the national anthem during the medal ceremony -- played only for the gold-medallists.
The 18-year-old from Assam became the youngest Indian boxer to book a berth for the Olympics during the Asian Qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Back in the country today with not just the berth but also the gold medal in his category, Shiva said he wanted to feel the exhilaration of standing on the top podium while flags are raised in slow motion and the gold-medallist`s national anthem is played in the background.
"The semifinal was like a final for me because an Olympic berth was at stake. The final was even more important because I wanted the Indian national anthem to be played in the background during the medal ceremony," the former Youth Olympics silver-medallist said.
"It was a very proud moment for me," added the sprightly teen at a felicitation function organised by Indian boxing sponsors Monnet Group.
India will have an unprecedented seven-strong presence at the London Olympics after Shiva, L Devendro Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Vijender Singh (75kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) booked their berths for the mega-event.
Of these, Shiva, Sumit and Vijender claimed their London tickets during the Asian Qualifiers.
The 19-year-old Sumit, who also got a gold at the Asian Qualifiers, said his Olympic dreams took flight when he saw Vijender bag the bronze medal in Beijing in 2008 but never thought he would be part of a contingent that features the biggest name in Indian boxing.
"I dreamt of going to Olympics when I saw Vijender get a bronze medal in 2008 but I never thought that I would be going with him some day," said the Haryana-lad.
The youngsters are understandably excited after what they have managed to do but said they are aware that expectations would only rise as they approach the Olympics in July.
"Definitely the expectations are high. We are actually least bothered about the results because our focus is performance, the rest is taken care of. Our job is to give our best," said Shiva.
"We have full faith on the training we undergo," added Sumit.
The duo came in from some lavish praise from Vijender himself and national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu.
"These boys have shown that the coming times are going to be good for Indian boxing. Top boxing nations come to us and ask us that `what are you guys doing?` given our success. The AIBA President has congratulated us," said Sandhu.
"These boys fought through tough draws to not just qualify but also win gold medals. They deserve to be applauded," added Vijender.
First Published: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 18:57