He stopped short of saying retirement but India’s long-serving national boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu has hinted at stepping down from his position after next month’s Olympics, saying that he wants to “rest” post the Rio campaign.
First appointed coach in 1993, Sandhu had decided to step down following the 2012 Olympics but was brought back in 2013 by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) until after the upcoming edition of the Games.
“I want to rest after this Olympics, I have conveyed this to the authorities concerned. It’s been a very long stint and I hope Indian boxers will deliver good results in Rio,” Sandhu told PTI before the contingent’s departure for Rio, where the boxing competition will get underway from August 6.
Asked if it meant the end of his long association with Indian boxing, Sandhu was somewhat ambiguous. “You can never say for sure what happens. I would never say no to responsibility if I am asked but I really want to rest now,” he said.
Frustrated by the administrative mess that has engulfed Indian boxing since 2012, Sandhu is nonetheless hopeful of medals from the three boxers who have qualified for Rio — Shiva Thapa (56kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Vikas Krishan (75kg).
“We cannot control what’s happening, our job is to train and perform and that’s what we have completely focussed ourselves on. I am hoping that the boys can deliver a memorable performance,” he said.
It has been a downward spiral for Indian boxing since 2012 when the national federation was terminated for manipulation in elections.
From eight boxers in the 2012 editions — seven men and one woman — the number of Olympic qualified dwindled to just three this time around.