75 years of independence, 75 iconic moments from Indian sports: No 14- Vijender Singh’s Olympic bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes.

Vijender Kumar of India celebrates with his bronze medal during the medal ceremony after the men's middleweight (75kg) final boxing match at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 22, 2008.   -  REUTERS

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022.

Vijender Singh’s Olympic bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games

Vijender Singh created history after beating Carlos Gongora of Ecuador 9-4 in the (75 kg category) quarterfinals to assure India its first Olympic boxing medal, a bronze. It was a major upgrade as Vijender had finished 17th at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The going was not easy. The second-round fight (against Asian Games silver medallist Angkhan Chomphuphuang of Thailand) was the most difficult one as he had beaten him a month before in Chinese Taipei and there was pressure on him according to the boxer.

READ: ‘Vijender is a winner’

The Indian boxer beat Carlos Gongora of Ecuador to reach the semifinals and ensure a medal. 

“After the bout, I had no idea that I had won. Only when my hand went up I realised that I won a medal. I thanked my coaches, family and the camera that captured my achievement.

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Carlos Gongora of Ecuador, left, fights Vijender Kumar of India during a men's light middleweight 75 kilogram quarterfinal boxing match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008.   -  AP

 

It was an amazing feeling. Two or three politicians had come to welcome me. The road trip from Delhi to Bhiwani was an experience of a lifetime. I was offered the post of deputy superintendent of police and some money by the Haryana government. My life changed completely. I can’t explain how everything transformed,” Singh said.

After shooter Abhinav Bindra’s historic gold medal and wrestler Sushil Kumar’s bronze, Vijender’s podium finish in the middleweight division was the icing on the cake for the Indians who were used to returning with just one medal from the Olympics.

(Read the full article published in Sportstar on July 9, 2021)

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