Vastavam web: Shiva Thapa and Vikas Krishan will be among India’s best bets to better both the colour and number of medals at the 19th World Boxing Championships, starting here tomorrow.Placed joint 49th in the all-time medal count, India have a bronze each to show for from the 2009, 2011 and the 2015 World Championships.Shiva (2015), Vikas (2011) and the now-professional Vijender Singh (2009) are the only ones to have been on the podium of the prestigious event, which doubles up as an Olympic qualifier in alternate editions.
“Then we went to France and Czech Republic for training- cum-competition trips and the results were excellent there.So, I am hopeful of a strong performance but I don’t want to make any predictions about the medals,” he added.To be tied with Australia, Tajikistan and Czech Republic in the all-time medal tally isn’t exactly a true reflection of how far Indian boxing has come since Vijender won the breakthrough bronze in 2009 in Milan.The boxers, on their part, also spoke confidently about their chances.
“It has been a long journey and we have seen a lot in all these years. World Championships is the premier tournament for us after the Olympics. I am as prepared as I could ever be for a big tournament,” said Shiva, all of 24 but a two-time Olympian with three back-to-back Asian Championship medals.The Assam boxer, who won a bantamweight 56kg bronze in the 2015 world championship, will be competing in the lightweight 60kg category this time.He had caught the eye of none other than Manny Pacquiao by clinching a rare knockout win for an Indian boxer at the big event.
Another bright medal prospect for India is without doubt Vikas. The 25-year-old would be eager to make a mark especially after getting a disciplinary warning for forfeiting his Asian Championship semifinal bout due to “confused” travel plans.The middleweight (75kg) boxer, a former Asian Games gold medallist, has chosen to stay aloof since the Asian meet and even trained alone in Pune at the Army Sports Institute, away from the national camp in Patiala.Not to be counted out is veteran Manoj Kumar (69kg), forever the dark horse who manages to surprise with tenacious performances. The 31-year-old former Commonwealth Games gold- medallist is perseverance personified and is yet to find a strong challenger on the national scene.”It is a strong squad, very dedicated and I am sure they will not let anyone down in performance,” said Nieva summing up the hopes.The 10-day championship will feature 280 boxers from 85 countries.