Boxers strive to end gold drought at Asian Games

New Delhi: With expectations sky-high after
their stupendous Commonwealth Games performance but very
little time for preparations, Indian pugilists head to
Guangzhou on Tuesday for the Asian Games where the country has
not won a boxing gold since 1998.

The flamboyant Dingko Singh was the last Indian boxer to
strike gold at the Asian Games in the Bangkok edition and
coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu is hoping that the gold drought of
the previous two Games, in Busan (2002) and Doha (2006), would
come to an end this time.

"Asian Games are always tougher than the Commonwealth
Games because of the fact that erstwhile Soviet Union nations
such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan compete here. And China is
also a rising power in boxing along with Korea. So let`s see
how the competition goes. Our boys have worked as hard as they
could and hopefully they would get the results," said Sandhu.

Expectations have soared to an all-time high after the
three gold and four bronze medals that the Indian boxers won
at the Commonwealth Games last month but Sandhu said instead
of pressure, it has only motivated his wards to do better.

"It is quite intimidating to know that expectations are
getting higher but it is also motivating. All these boys are
getting so much adulation after their wins that every boy in
the camp is getting motivated," he said.

The 10-member team leaves tomorrow night and barring
Olympic and World Championships bronze-medallist Vijender
Singh (75kg) and Commonwealth Games bronze-winner Dilbag Singh
(69k), all of them would be competing at the Asian Games for
the first time.

What has hampered the preparations to an extent is the
very little time gap between the Commonwealth and the Asian
Games. The two events fall within a month of each other and
Sandhu said that it is detrimental to the recovery process of
boxers whose bodies anyhow get punished because of the strict
weight maintenance regimen they have to follow in the build-up
to major competitions.

"Just one month`s gap between two events of such
importance can never be good. The boys need time to recover
because boxing is a contact sport. It might be just 11 minutes
in the ring but to make those 11 minutes count, a boxer exerts
himself tremendously," he explained.

"The good thing is we are reaching there well in advance.
The boxing competition will start only on November 16 and we
would get time to acclimatise ourselves," he said.

Among the brightest medal prospects for India -- apart
from Vijender -- would be Suranjoy Singh (52kg) -- the
low-profile diminutive Manipuri who has won an astonishing
seven international gold medals since April 2009.

The 23-year-old delivered his latest golden punch at the
CWG and though he is not too happy with the "very little time"
he has got for training, he is confident of adding an eighth
gold to his tally.

"It would have been better to have got more than a month
to prepare because our bodies need that time to get ready. But
it`s ok. There is no point complaining because these schedules
were known to us and now we just have to focus on getting it
right in the ring," he said.

For Vijender, it is all about getting over the
disappointment of having to settle for a bronze in the CWG
after a controversial loss in the semifinals.

"There is no point thinking about what has happened. I
have already moved on and I am confident of getting a gold at
the Asian Games," he said.


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