‘India can be among the best in 2024 Olympics’

“If we have a six-month calendar, then we cannot achieve anything. It has to be a long-term one. For the Tokyo Olympics, we have got just three years, which is a short time,” feels India’s boxing coach Santiago Nieva.

Santiago Nieva, 42, was a former World No. 1 boxer and has done a high performance coaching course.   -  Y. B. Sarangi

Despite his extensive exposure to different styles of boxing, Santiago Nieva, who has been chosen to coach the country's men boxers to greater glory in the forthcoming Olympics, admits that he needs to know more about India and its boxing culture before formulating his action plan.

Speaking to Sportstar after having a feel of a boxing camp in Delhi, Nieva said, “Right now I am learning things about Indian boxing, I am doing some research and talking to people. We must compare ourselves with the best (boxing) nations in the world and need to put in place a boxing specific plan to improve our standards.”

“We can hope for medals in 2020, but if we work from now and put in place a good system, then we have a better chance to be among the best nations in 2024.”

An International Boxing Association (AIBA) three-star coach with the experience of competing and coaching in Argentina (with Cuban, Latin American and North American influences) and his present base in Sweden (with Russian and other European influences), Nieva noted that “the boxers and coaches here have got high ambitions. India has the potential to win medals in 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

However, the 42-year-old, who was a former World No. 1 boxer and has done a high performance coaching course, said the country must pursue a long-term goal. “If we have a six-month calendar, then we cannot achieve anything. It has to be a long-term one. For the Tokyo Olympics, we have got just three years, which is a short time. We can hope for medals in 2020, but if we work from now and put in place a good system, then we have a better chance to be among the best nations in 2024.”

Nieva, who has been roped in for the 2020 Olympics, said the fact that Indian boxing had a culture of continuing with good coaches, for example Cuban coach B.I. Fernanadez in the past, should help the country in developing a sound system.

Nieva, who is the secretary of the AIBA Coaches' Commission, where he has been involved in several important recommendations and rule changes, said his areas of operation included coaching the coaches and grooming boxers at the grass-roots level. “Working with the coaches is one of the main areas. I have worked on this area my whole life... Besides, we have to focus on the grass-roots development as that's where the boxers come from.”

For Nieva, the immediate assignments will be the Asian Championship to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in the last week of April and the World championship to be held in Hamburg, Germany, from August 25 to September 3.