Boxing: Sarita Devi, Shiva Thapa in Indian team for China exposure trip
The 10-day sojourn will see the Indians square off against boxers from China, Thailand, Mongolia, and Korea.
New Delhi: On a comeback trail after serving out her one-year ban, Asian Games bronze-medallist L Sarita Devi will be seen in competitive action from December 1 as part of a 13-strong Indian team of 10 men and 3 women for the training-cum-competition event in the Chinese city of Qian'an.
The 10-day sojourn will see the Indians square off against boxers from China, Thailand, Mongolia, and Korea. The city where the event is being staged is also the one which will also host the Asian Olympic qualifiers from March 23 to April 3 next year.
"It is an excellent opportunity for our boxers to prepare themselves for the Olympic qualifiers which will be held in March. Training-cum-competition trips are good for the all-round preparations and I am sure our boxers will make the most of this opportunity," national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said.
"The invites have come for individual boxers by their names and therefore a very strong team is going for this event. I am sure the boxers will gain valuable skills and confidence from this trip," he added.
The men's team features World Championships bronze-medallist and World No. 2 Shiva Thapa (56kg), Asian silver-medallist and World No. 7 Vikas Krishan (75kg) and Commonwealth Games silver-winners L Devendro Singh (49kg) and Mandeep Jangra (69kg) among others.
Also there in the side is Gaurav Bidhuri (52kg), who created quite a buzz last year by notching up a some good wins in the semi-professional World Series of Boxing.
The women's challenge will be spearheaded by Sarita (60kg), who trained in Liverpool recently as a part of her return to the mainstream after being banned for a year.
The Manipuri had to sit out of the ring owing to her infamous emotional outburst at the Incheon Asian Games last year, where she refused to accept her bronze medal after a controversial semifinal loss.
Another Asian Games bronze-winner Pooja Rani (75kg) and Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Pinki Jangra (51kg) completed the women's troika for the event.
The event is of considerable importance for the Indian boxers, who are starved of international exposure due to the current administrative mess in the sport.
In the absence of a national federation, international invites have all but dried up for the Indians, who are also forced to compete under the International Boxing Association (AIBA) flag because of the current situation.
Men: L Devendro Singh (49kg), Gaurav Bidhuri (52kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Manish Kaushik (60kg), Thomas Maitei (64kg), Mandeep Jangra (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg), Kuldeep Singh (81kg), Amritpreet Singh (91kg) and Narender (+91kg).
Women: Pinki Jangra (51kg), L Sarita Devi (60kg), Pooja Rani (75kg).