New Delhi: With less than six months to go for the London Olympics, Indian pugilists led by Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paramjeet Samota will participate in the International Boxing Tournament in Almaty, Kazakhstan to get the necessary exposure ahead of the marquee event.
Samota, who claimed his fifth successive national title in December last year, is looking to make amends for the first round exit at the AIBA World Championships in Azerbaijan.
"Everyone is looking to secure an Olympic berth and so am I. This tournament would be a good way to start the year and prepare for the Continental Qualifying tournament which will also be held in Kazakhstan. A good performance here will certainly be a confidence booster," said the 23-year-old boxer.
The five-day event, which starts from February 14, also includes Russia and France apart from India and hosts Kazakhstan.
National coach G S Sandhu, who would be travelling with the team said although the event is small with limited number of participants, the competition on display promises to be of highest quality.
"We are not sending a full strength team, it is a mix squad. Our aim is provide the boxers with a platform that offers a favourable challenge. The event will allow us to judge our boxers` performances and also an opportunity to study the opposition," he said.
"This competition will be a learning curve for our boxers and will help them prepare for the upcoming events," Sandhu added.
Apart from Samota, Asian games silver medallist Manpreet Singh (91kg) and 2010 SAF games gold medallist Chhote Lal Yadav (56kg) will also be a part of the 10-member team.
L Devendro Singh (49kg), who already secured an Olympic berth at the World Championships in October last year, will also be seen in action at the event.
Yadav is taking this event as an opportunity to get good match practice under his belt.
"Qualifying for the London Olympics is the main objective, but my immediate goal is to train hard and get good exposure so that I can perform well in the selection trails for the Olympic qualifying event," said Yadav.
The tournament is expected to provide youngsters with an opportunity to judge their performance against a quality challenge and will be of great help in getting ready for the eventual battle.
"The tournament will give the selected boys a chance to ease into international competition and also an opportunity to challenge some good boxers," secretary general of the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF), P K Muralidharan Raja said.
"This is the Olympic year all our preparation will determine the kind of results we yield in London, therefore, we have to make sure the boys are match ready and grab every opportunity that we get," he insisted.
L Devendro Singh (49Kg), Sunil Kumar (52Kg), Chhote Lal Yadav (56Kg), Vinay Kumar (60Kg), M Thomas (64Kg), Vijay Kumar (69Kg), Kuldeep Singh (75Kg), Sumit Sangwan (81Kg), Manpreet Singh (91Kg), Paramjeet Samota (+91Kg).