Vikas closes in on Olympic berth

Vikas Krishnan entered the quarter-finals of the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan, thereby getting himself one step closer to a Rio 2016 berth.

Vikas Krishnan will next take on Korea’s Lee Dongyun in what will be a critical bout for him.   -  V. Sudershan

Former Asian Games gold-medallist Vikas Krishan (75kg) became the third Indian boxer to enter the quarters of the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament here, just one win away from booking a berth in the Rio Games this August.

Seeded second in his draw, Vikas outwitted Georgia’s Kvachatadze Zaal 3-0 late last night to advance to the last-eight stage where he will take on Korea’s Lee Dongyun. “Vikas dominated all three rounds and did not have to work too hard for this win. The Georgian guy tried his best but Vikas kept his composure and in the end it was easy for him,” national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu told PTI.

Vikas, a former World Championships bronze medallist, joined Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) in the quarter-finals. All three have to make the semis to book an Olympic berth besides being assured of a medal. Commonwealth Games silver-medallist L. Devendro Singh (49kg), seeded fourth, is through to the semi-finals but has to be in the summit clash of his weight category to clinch a Rio spot.

Trio in action on Thursday

After a rest day today, Vikas, Manoj and Sumit will compete in their respective quarter-final bouts on Thursday. Devendro, on the other hand, will be seen in action on Friday.

Devendro will face Spain’s Samuel Heredia, who stunned top seed Dmytro Zamotaev of Ukraine. Zamotaev is a World Championships and European Championships bronze medallist. Manoj, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist, will face Tajikistan’s Rakhimov Shavkatdzhon. Sumit, on the other hand, will be up against Russia’s Petr Khamukov

The tournament has 39 qualifying spots up for grabs — two in the 49kg category, five each in 52kg, 56kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg, 75kg and 81kg, and one each in 91kg and +91kg. Over 400 boxers from more than 100 countries are vying for these slots in the final qualifying tournament for amateur boxers.

India have not sent any entry in the 56kg category as Shiva Thapa has already qualified for the Rio Games during the Asian qualifiers in March.