Nieva hopeful to earn more quota places as qualifier cancellation dents India's chances

The cancellation of the World Olympic boxing qualifier has dented India’s chances of earning more quota places, high performance director Santiago Nieva prefers to wait and watch.

File photo of Indian boxing's High Performance Director, Santiago Nieva.   -  AFP

Even though the cancellation of the World Olympic boxing qualifier has dented India’s chances of earning more quota places, high performance director Santiago Nieva prefers to wait and watch.

Altogether nine boxers – Amit Panghal (52kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg) in men and M.C. Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit Singh (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg) – out of a maximum 13 qualified for the Olympics through the Asian qualifier in March last year.

India, which has strong boxers in both men and women’s 57kg, was hoping to garner at least two more spots in the World qualifier scheduled in Paris in June.

Read: Indian Olympic boxing team unlikely to exceed nine as world qualifiers scrapped  

With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) proposing to cancel the World qualifier and pick the best ranked athletes not yet qualified per region per weight category, as per the Boxing Task Force (BTF) rankings upon the conclusion of each respective continental event, India’s chances look bleak.

However, Nieva has not given up hope. “We have to see the official decision about the ranking points. Until we get the final official confirmation, we hope that (to get some more slots). We don’t want to speculate too much,” Nieva told Sportstar.

Kavinder Bisht is ranked 14th in men’s 57kg in the BTF chart, while Sonia Chahal is the best ranked boxer at 18th place in women’s 57kg. However, she is nursing an injury.

Also read: Ajay Singh re-elected as president of Boxing Federation of India  

Sakshi Chaudhary is next, sharing the 20th place with four others.

Nieva said the change in the qualification system was a surprise.

“The difference is that the Europeans and Americans get the news before their qualifiers. So they can make any strategic change in boxers…potentially, we could have sent a boxer with higher ranking points to the qualifier rather than take a chance with a boxer without points...now we don’t have that option.

“When we sent boxers to the qualifier, we counted that we had two chances but now we have only one chance. When we started the Olympic cycle, the plan was that there would be four qualifiers – the World championships, the Asian qualifier, World Series of Boxing (WSB) and the World qualifier. With that system, I am pretty sure we would have got almost all of our boxers qualified,” said Nieva.

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