The Indian boxers look leaner and fitter as they enter the final phase of their Olympics preparation. Their confidence is sky high and the expectation level is exalted. The crowded send-off ceremony of the pugilists here on Thursday spoke volumes about their enthusiasm.
Can the boxers perform better in the London Games? The question was all pervading at a function where the eight Olympics-bound pugilists shared their emotions on their dream event. They will leave for London on Friday morning.
Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh spoke like a true ambassador for Indian boxing. “Our preparation has been good and the chances are bright. All the boxers are talented and this time they share my responsibility (of winning medals). We will try to do better,” said Vijender.
Five-time world champion M.C. Mary Kom admitted that the biggest challenge for her would be to stay away from stress.
“Since I am the first woman (boxer) to have qualified for the Olympics, there is a lot of stress. Everyone is expecting a medal from me. I must do something to control this.”
Two-time Asian championship medallist Jai Bhagwan said he was banking on his increased hunger for success. “In my weight (60kg), competition will be tough and I do not want to repent later (by taking anybody lightly).”
Commonwealth Games champion Manoj Kumar was clear about his job. “I do not like to take pressure. I am preserving my best for the Olympics. That is why I am using my left hand (which was operated in October last) carefully,” he said.
Chief National coach G.S. Sandhu, set to retire in July next year, expected a better showing from his wards. “If we get good results in the Olympics, I can walk away a satisfied man,” said Sandhu.
Foreign coach B.I. Fernandez, who has been part of Indian boxing for nearly two decades, was enthused with the boxers’ preparedness.
“The boys think they are the best and they can beat anyone. They are ready for the Olympics.”
Physio Harishankar Varma agreed. “They have started losing weight to fit into their respective divisions. Now, the focus is on speed, and the duration of daily training has become shorter,” said Varma.
The Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) Secretary-General, P.K. Muralidharan Raja, also the deputy chef-de-mission of the Indian contingent in the Olympics, observed: “We are a force to reckon with in both men and women’s boxing. Each one of them is a potential medallist.”
Monnet Group chairman Sandeep Jajodia announced incentives for the boxers.
“We pray they bring laurels for the country.
“The Monnet Group will give Rs.5,100,000 for gold, Rs.2,100,000 for silver and Rs.1,100,000 for bronze winners,” he said.