Aiming for Olympic quota places and medals

"It is going to be very tough. I will be happy even if we get one quota place," said the chief National coach, G. S. Sandhu, prior to the team’s departure for the World Championship.

Devendro Singh... trained for the World Championships for about two weeks in Kazakhstan.   -  PTI

The Indian boxers have had the best possible preparations for the upcoming World Championship in Doha and will cherish any gain from the elite event that poses the toughest ever challenge in a pre-Olympics year.

For the first time, the boxers had to qualify for the World Championship through continental competitions. This would make the Doha event, which would serve as a qualifier for next year’s Rio Olympics, the most keenly fought World Championships ever.

An amateur boxer’s scope for qualifying for the Rio Games through the Worlds had shrunk significantly after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) decided to allocate 63 Olympic quota places (out of a total of 250) to pugilists from its own professional leagues, World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Pro Boxing (APB). No Indian boxer would be able to make it to the Olympics through either WSB or APB.

Altogether 260 boxers from across the globe will compete for 23 Olympic quota places apart from the medals in Doha.

Six Indians – L. Devendro Singh (49 kg), Madan Lal (52 kg), Shiva Thapa (56 kg), Manoj Kumar (64 kg), Vikas Krishan (75 kg) and Satish Kumar (+91 kg) – have qualified for the Worlds through the Asian Championship in Bangkok.

“It is going to be very tough. I will be happy even if we get one quota place,” said the chief National coach, G. S. Sandhu, prior to the team’s departure for the World Championship on Thursday night.

Devendro, Shiva Thapa and Vikas utilised the funds allocated under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) by the Union Sports Ministry to go for about two weeks of training in Kazakhstan, while three others trained at the National camp in Patiala.

“All of them are in good form. The climate there will be very hot even though the competition venue will be air-conditioned. We will get a few days to get acclimatised to the conditions,” said Sandhu.

After the World Championship, Indian boxers will get two more chances, the continental qualification event in the first quarter of the year and the World qualification event in the second quarter, to make the cut for the Olympics.