Confident about the trio of Shiva Thapa, Vikas Krishan and Manoj Kumar, stalwarts of Indian boxing feel the three are capable of producing a historic Olympic performance in Rio despite the pressure they are facing.
Beijing 2008 bronze-medallist Vijender Singh, London 2012 bronze-winner M C Mary Kom and Beijing quarterfinalist Akhil Kumar — the three names which took Indian boxing to unprecedented heights — will be watching the current crop’s fortunes in Rio closely.
Speaking to PTI, all three of them exuded confidence that Shiva (56kg), Manoj (64kg) and Vikas (75kg) will come good at the biggest stage.
“I am expecting all three of them to win medals. All of them are experienced, this is their second Olympics and I feel all of them can return with medals despite the pressure,” said Vijender, India’s first Olympic and World Championships medallist.
Vijender, who is currently plying his trade in the professional circuit, was recently crowned the WBO Asia Pacific champion.
The sentiment was echoed by Mary Kom, whose achievements in women’s boxing are unprecedented in India.
“I am confident that it will be a good performance. Pressure is there but I am sure all of them can handle it. All three of them have the ability,” said the Manipuri, a five-time world champion.
Akhil, a former World Cup bronze-medallist and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal winner, said the troika has already proved its worth by making the podium at major tournaments which puts them in good stead for the Rio Games, beginning on August 5.
“They have given good results. Shiva and Vikas are World Championships medallists (bronze). Vikas also has an Asian Games gold. Manoj is a former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist. So they have been there, done that. They have the experience to deliver in Rio. I am expecting at least two medals,” he said.
India had not won an Rio Olympics medal in boxing till Vijender opened the account in Beijing 2008, Mary Kom added another bronze to it in 2012.
Akhil could not win an Olympic medal but created quite a flutter in Beijing by beating the then World No.1 Sergey Vodopyanov of Russia en route the quarterfinals.
“My best wishes are with the boys. We will be supporting them,” said Akhil.
“We will be praying for them. Boxing is a complex sport, but I am sure, our boys will do the country proud,” added Mary Kom.