Nieva seeks more boxers at national camp, says things going well

Nine male boxers and a few of their women counterparts are training at NIS Patiala, taking the first step towards a restart amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

India's high-performance director Santiago Nieva (L) is confident that more boxers will join the training camp. (File Photo)   -  PTI

Resumption is done and expansion can now follow, said Indian boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva, revealing that addition of seven more boxers has been proposed at the ongoing national training camp for the Olympic-bound in Patiala.

Nine male boxers and a few of their women counterparts are training at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala, taking the first step towards a restart amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These include world silver-medallist and top Olympic medal hope Amit Panghal.

“We are looking to add seven more boxers, two coaches and a support staff member to this list in the next few weeks. Approval has been sought from SAI. We are assessing things one month at a time,” Nieva said.

“The boxers who are here are training under the strict health safety protocol given to us and things have been smooth. I can’t give you names but the ones we want included next are second in rankings of their respective categories,” he said.

The camp started in the first week of this month after boxers, willing to take the trip to Patiala were quarantined, tested and then allowed to enter the NIS.

Eleven Indian boxers join national training camp under Santiago Nieva  

In between, a controversy flared up when the Olympic-bound duo of Vikas Krishan and Satish Kumar “unknowingly” broke the quarantine protocol.

The two have since made Bengaluru’s Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS) their training base and won’t be coming back, despite getting a SAI go ahead, due to the travelling involved.

“We are currently able to do 70 per cent of the things that we used to do,” Nieva said of the training regimen in Patiala.

“As per the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), we cannot enter the ring or do sparring or pad work. But we can do running, strength training, and lot of (punching) bags. That’s enough for now,” he added.

A boxer not able to access the ring, does it feel weird?

“Not as of now. May be another three-four weeks and it will begin to feel weird but what to do. We have to be patient. Like the rest of the world, we have to adjust and adapt,” Nieva said.

The nine Indian boxers to have qualified for Tokyo Olympics are MC Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Pooja Rani (75kg), Panghal (52kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Vikas (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg) and Satish (+91kg).

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With all international competition halted for the time being and Olympics postponed to next year, Nieva said the boxers can afford to take it a bit slow.

“We have enough time to get back top form. It’s still one year for the Olympics, I am fine with the pace of training at this point. But it remains an evolving situation and we are all adjusting,” Nieva said.

Women’s HPD Raffaele Bergamasco ready to fly back

Indian women’s boxing’s High Performance Director Raffaele Bergamasco, who had gone to Italy to be with his wife as she recovered from cancer, is ready to fly back and is awaiting visa clearance.

“He should be here some time this month. He is all set, just needs visa clearance,” a top BFI official said.

Of the Olympic-bound women boxers, six-time world champion and London Games bronze-medallist Mary Kom and two-time world bronze-winner Lovlina Borgohain are training at their respective home bases as joining the camp in Patiala was optional.