Shiva Thapa has weathered injuries, loss of form, intense competition and sharp criticism to corner the rare glory of being an Asian Boxing Championships medallist in four consecutive editions.

The 25-year-old claimed a gold medal in 2013 and followed it up with a bronze in 2015, a silver in 2017 and another bronze in Bangkok last week. While his first two medals came in 56kg weight category, his latest two were in 60kg.

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“I never realised this. When I enter a competition, I aim to win a medal. This time when I won my quarterfinal bout, I realised that I had achieved something special. This is good motivation,” Thapa told Sportstar .

The Guwahati boxer, who made his Olympic debut in the 2012 London Olympics and claimed a World Championships bronze medal three years later, went through a tough phase from 2016. He battled injuries and bad form since switching from bantamweight to lightweight.

“Hard times make you better. People had various opinions about my game. Nobody is right or wrong; they just had their opinions. I took everything in my stride, backed myself and worked to become better," said Thapa.

“I am thankful to God for those hard years, which made me stronger. Hopefully, I have got something better to achieve.”

“The intensity of my game and volume of punches have increased (after the change in weight category). Earlier, I was primarily a counter-puncher. Now, I have changed my style a bit by bringing in more aggression...Nobody is a complete boxer but I am trying to be better at the new skills.”

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Having worked with two generations of boxers – the batch of Vijender Singh and Akhil Kumar and the present lot including Amit Panghal, Kavinder Singh Bisht and others – Thapa reflected on his journey from being a junior boxer to be an experienced one.

“It was great to be with experienced boxers like Akhil bhai and Vijender bhai . I learnt a lot from them. Now, there are a lot of energetic boxers. Everyone works hard, so a word of praise or a pat on the back motivates the younger boxers. The atmosphere is good and we support each other. When we work as a team, everyone benefits,” Thapa signed off.