New Delhi: Back from a month-long training trip to Australia with his mentor Akhil Kumar, Commonwealth Games silver medal-winning Indian boxer Mandeep Jangra said the stint has helped him get over long-standing anxiety as he gears up for the Olympic qualifiers later this year.
Mandeep, also an Asian Championships silver-medallist, didn't just train but also emerged winner in a one-off bout which was organised by the Australia institute of Sports (AIS), where the duo was based during the trip.
"It was a fantastic stint during which I trained vigorously in short sessions and sparred with different partners. There were three coaches to help me and it has worked wonders for my confidence," Mandeep said after returning to the country.
"The icing on the cake was winning that one-off bout against a local guy who I was told is one of their best. It was an evening fight in front of a packed arena and competing in it helped me get over anxiety. I used to be tense ahead of big bouts but competing in an environment like that made me feel confident about myself," he said.
Mandeep is expected to be seen next in the Asian Championships -- scheduled in Bangkok from August 26 to September 5 --, the trials for which would be conducted between July 16 and 18 in Patiala.
This would be followed by the World Championships in Doha in October. The mega-event is also the first qualifying tournament for next year's Rio Olympics.
The 22-year-old went to Australia as part of the Sports Ministry's Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme accompanied by his mentor Akhil -- a former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist.
"Akhil bhai has been my coach, mentor, partner all rolled into one for a long time and having him there helped me in a big way. Now I feel very confident ahead of the Asian Championships," Mandeep said.
Akhil, on his part, said the trainers at the AIS were exceptionally caring of the duo.
"The AIS stint has been excellent for both of us. I am sure the results will be there for everyone to see when the competition season begins the next month," he said.
With Vijender Singh turning professional, questions are being raised as to whether other Indian boxers would also take the plunge, but Mandeep said he is not interested in joining the bandwagon.
"No, the thought has not crossed my mind. It doesn't interest me, I only wish to represent India at the highest level in amateur," said the Haryana youngster.