Youth boxers aim for medals, Olympic quota places at worlds
New Delhi: It`s an event where India`s medal count has only gone up with each edition and even though the current circumstances are the worst for Indian boxing, a group of seven boys and three girls is confident of delivering the nation`s best-ever show in the AIBA World Youth Championships -- a qualifying event for the Youth Olympics this year.
The youngsters, all in the age bracket of 17 and 18, would be looking out for not just medals from April 14 to 24 in Sofia, Bulgaria but also a place in the Youth Olympics, scheduled to be held in Nanjing, China from August 16 to 28.
To qualify for the Youth Olympics, the boxers will have to reach at least the semi-finals of the world event.
The Indians would be competing under the International Boxing Association (AIBA) flag due to the termination of the Indian Boxing Federation following its failure to comply with the world body`s directives on holding elections.
Despite the gloomy circumstances that surround their departure, the youngsters are beaming with confidence.
"It is a tournament where we have traditionally done well, it has produced for us champions who have gone on to do well exceptionally well at the senior," national youth coach G Manoharan told PTI ahead of the team`s departure later tonight.
Manoharan is not off the mark with that statement. At the 2010 edition, Vikas Krishan (69kg) won a gold medal while Shiva Thapa (52kg) returned with a silver medal.
While Vikas went on to become only the second Indian to grab a senior World Championship medal, Shiva became a gold medallist at the senior Asian level before becoming the youngest from the country to clinch an Olympic berth.
"This year, we expect to come up with our best ever performance. Expected medal count is four or more," asserted Manoharan, despite the fact that the Indians have been denied crucial training stints abroad due to the IABF`s termination.
"We have been preparing pretty well at our camp in the Sports Authority of India Center in Aurangabad. The morale of the team is very high. Some of the boys who are going to Sofia are in good form," added the long-serving coach.
At the Asian Youth Championships, Gaurav Solanki (52kg) and Neel Kamal Singh (75kg) had won silver medals, while Manjeet (69kg) had brought home a bronze medal. All three are part of the team for the World Championships and are expected to do well.
The three girls in the team are no less. Part of the team is Nikhat Zareen (51kg), a gold-medallist at the junior World Championships. The Hyderabadi was a silver-medallist at the youth Word Championships as a 17-year-old last year and will get a chance to improve on that in the revamped upcoming edition, which has merged the men`s and women`s competition.
India had won a couple of silver medals and a bronze in the previous edition in Yerevan, Armenia.
Boys: Shyam Kumar Kakara (49 Kg), Gaurav Solanki (52 Kg), Karthik Sathish Kumar (56 Kg), Sandeep Kumar (60 Kg), Neeraj Parasar (64 Kg), Manjeet (69 Kg), Neel Kamal Singh (75 Kgs),
Coaches: G Manoharan, C Ramanand.
Girls: Nikhat Zareen (51 Kg), Jamuna Boro (60 Kg), Manju Bamboriya (75 Kg)
Coaches: I V Rao, Sandhya Gurung.