New Delhi: Oblivious to the administrative mess that Indian boxing is in right now, the country`s youth boxers, who returned with just four bronze medals from the Asian Championship today, said the huge drop in the medal count was caused by an ‘inexperience and tough draw’.
Four boxers - P L Prasad (49kg), Abhishek Beniwal (81kg), Amarpreet Singh (91kg) and Narender (+91kg)- settled for bronze medals at the event which was held in Subic Bay, Philippines.
The number of medals won this time is far less than the nine, including two gold and three silver, that were won in the last edition of the tournament held in Iran.
But the circumstances surrounding the two editions are quite different.
Indian boxing was on the rise when the boys headed last time but this time, quite a lot of drama preceded the team`s departure.
Foremost, the federation is currently serving a suspension due to the IOC ban on the IOA and ‘possible manipulation’ in elections.
This forced them to compete under the AIBA flag instead of the Indian tri-colour besides donning a kit which did not feature the country`s name.
But the spunky teens insisted that the changed circumstances could not demoralise them as they are not even fully aware of the situation.
"Competing under the AIBA flag was not a big deal. But it was disappointing that all four of us lost in the semifinals. Sometimes it happens in sports," felt Narender, a silver-medallist at last year`s World Championships.
"We know about the suspension but nothing more than that. We don`t know what the situation is right now. We were focussed on performing well. Having to compete under AIBA flag was no big deal because we knew we belong to India," said P L Prasad, a bronze-medallist at the World Championships and a junior national champion.
"I lost because I fell short in stamina, it had nothing to do with India`s suspension," he added.
Abhishek said the boxers felt comfortable and were given all help by the AIBA officials.
"The fact is we were slightly inexperienced and got tough draws. These were the key factors. We don`t know much about the suspension. As far as we are concerned, we were treated well by the AIBA officials and faced no problem. The international officials were very helpful," he said.
Coach G Manoharan said the boys, who did not have much experience at the international level, performed well nonetheless and lost by close margins.
"They are not bothered about the suspension. They are training most of the time and don`t have the time to follow the politics. They are young boys eager to learn a lot and as they gain in experience, they will become better boxers and form the next batch of prolific performers," he said.
The boys will now take a month`s break before starting their preparations for the National Youth Championships in May.