New Delhi: India will have an unprecedented seven boxers in the Olympic Games after teen sensations Shiva Thapa (56kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) earned their London tickets by advancing to the finals in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Two other Indian boxers -- Manpreet Singh (91kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) -- missed out on a London berth while the already-qualified Vijender Singh (75kg) settled for a bronze.
The 18-year-old Shiva, in fact, became the youngest Indian boxer to make the cut for the Olympics by beating Japan`s Satoshi Shimizu 31-17 to enter the final of the event which was the region`s last qualifying tournament.
"It was a superb performance. He was down a point in the first round due to overt aggression but did not panic and played from medium range in the next two rounds to win and win big," national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu told PTI from Astana.
"Most of his points came through right straight punches," he added.
A 19-year-old L Devendro Singh had booked his London berth in the last year`s World Championships, tying with Debendra Singh (1996 Atlanta) as the youngest Indian boxer to make the Olympics. But the 1993-born Shiva broke this record on Wednesday.
The Assam teenager, playing only his second senior international event (he won a gold in his maiden senior tournament), was down 6-7 in the opening round.
But he turned the tables in the second round, taking a massive 15-6 lead. The final three minutes followed a similar script as Shiva clinched it with ease. He will face Wessam Salamana of Syria in the summit clash on Thursday.
In the evening session, 2010 Youth Asian Championship silver medallist Sumit, 19, upstaged 2009 Asian Championship bronze medallist Ihab Almatdault from Jordan 24-12 to qualify for London Olympics.
As in the 56kg category, only three Olympic quota places were on offer in the 81kg division and the best way to ensure an Olympic berth was to make it to the finals and leave nothing to chance.
Sumit, competing in his first senior international event, took a 5-3 lead in the opening round and became more aggressive and accurate as the bout progressed to quite literally thrash his opponent with his precise left jabs and hooks.
"I was confident of qualifying because I had practiced very hard. My left hooks worked very well and I am glad that I lived up to my own expectations," Sumit said.
However, Olympic and World Championships bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg), who is already assured of a London ticket, lost to Asian and Youth Olympics bronze-medallist Nursahat Pazziyev 7-10.
Vijender trailed 2-3 in the opening round as Pazziyev came up better on the accuracy graph with his combination of jabs and uppercuts.
The 19-year-old Turkmenian was happy to guard and counter-attack, waiting for his 26-year-old Indian rival to make the first move and he managed to widen the lead to 6-4 at the end of the second round with this tactic.
Vijender seemed determined in the last three minutes but the sheer accuracy of Pazziyev was hard to deal with for the former world number one as he settled for a bronze and an Olympic berth at the event.
"I am very satisfied with the performance. Vijender lost today but has already completed the main job which was to qualify for the Olympics. He could have won today but it`s ok because he has got the Olympic berth," said Sandhu.
In another disappointing result for India, Asian Games silver-medallist Manpreet Singh (91kg) failed to qualify for the Olympics after losing 13-6 in the semifinals to Iran`s Ali Mazaheri. Manpreet needed to win a gold to make the London cut.
The 23-year-old Indian was ahead 3-2 in the opening round but lost the second round 2-5. Mazaheri was spot on with his placement of jabs that penetrated Manpreet`s defence.
In the final three minutes, the Iranian became more aggressive and outpunched Manpreet 6-1 to make the final.
"Manpreet beat an Asian gold-medallist in the opening round and I am happy with the way he performed even today," said Sandhu.
Later, in the semi-finals of the super heavyweight class, Commonwealth Games Gold medallist Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) lost 12-23 to 2007 Asian Championship silver medallist Soumar Ghossoun of Syria.
The 23-year-old Indian, who got a bye in the quarter-finals, had to win the title in his weight to qualify for the London Olympiad, as the superheavy weight class had only one quota place.
Four Indian boxers -- L Devendro Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Vikas Krishan (69kg) -had already booked their Olympic berths in last year`s World Championship.
First Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 20:57