Punching the air
Earlier this year, when 18-year-old Shiva Thapa became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the London Olympics, the country’s count in the Games ring went up to seven, the highest ever for the nation. Thapa, who competes in the 56 kg bantam-weight category not only won the quota, but also claimed the title in the Asian qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Though the likes of Asian Games silver medallist Manpreet Singh and Commonwealth Games (CWG) champion Paramjeet Singh Samota missed the bus to London, it was perhaps the strongest ever contingent for the event. After Beijing Olympics, where Vijender Singh won the bronze medal, Indian boxing saw the emergence of young boxers like Vikas Yadav, who claimed the bronze medal in the 2011 World Championships in Baku and a young Devendro Singh, who shocked favourites like CWG silver medallist Amandeep Singh and the 2007 World Youth Champion Nanao Singh to bag a quota in 49 kg for London.
But in London, the failure of the Indian boxers, many of whom came close to entering the medal round, including Vijender, meant that Indian boxing was again on the back foot. If Vikas Yadav’s first-round defeat and Manoj Kumar’s quarterfinal loss were a result of dubious umpiring, Vijender Singh’s reversal in the quarters of the 75 kg category to old foe Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev had
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