His eight-year long dream to qualify for the Olympics realised after two unsuccessful attempts, Indian boxer Jai Bhagwan says the wait has made him hungrier than ever and he is keen to prove his worth at the upcoming London Games.
Bhagwan, who missed the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games, finally succeeded in getting a ticket to London after reaching the quarterfinals of the World Championship last year in Azerbaijan.
The 60kg boxer said that he doesn’t want to waste the opportunity, and has been training with a personal coach.
“I am happy I qualified. I missed twice and I want to make it count this time, I want to show the world. I think I am more hungry now after missing out twice,” Bhagwan told reporters on the sidelines of a send-off function.
“We were given personal coach to train. I was being trained by Jagdish Chandraji. When you train in group, sometimes you can’t use your favourite punch, but in individual training you can sharpen your favourite punch.”
Bhagwan said that he doesn’t want to take anyone lightly as the competition is more tough in his category.
“60kg is such a category which is found in most countries. It is tough... Vietnam and even in Europe, you can get a 60 kg category boxer. So competition is very tough and I don’t want to take anyone lightly so that I don’t regret later. I want to give my 110 per cent,” he said.
According to the 26-year-old, qualifying early gave him enough time to work on his weakness.
“I qualified at World Championship, so got more time to train and work on my weakness. It was a long time of 6-7 months. I worked on my right punches,” he said.
The Indian boxers had gone to Dublin for a fortnight’s training, and Bhagwan said it was a good experience and he is looking forward to their next training session on the outskirts of England.
“It was good training as the conditions are also same as England. Some other countries like Tanzania had come for training there. Asian and European style is different. We are leaving for England tomorrow to train at a place which is 20kms from the Games village,” he said.
Another boxer who has had a topsy-turvy ride to the Olympics, is Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manoj Kumar, and the Indian said he is working on his punches to be battle ready.
“I have been working on my punches and endurance so that I can withstand the hardest of punches during the Games. I have been training with our Cuban coach B I Fernandes on a personal level,” he said.
“My left hand was injured during training and I underwent a surgery. I am using my left hand less now a days. I will use it to the fullest during the Games. I will give my everything there,” he added.
Manoj had to battle injuries and tough competition to finally book an Olympic berth.
Asked if he is feeling the pressure now that he has finally qualified for the Games, Manoj said: “I don’t feel pressure anymore. I have seen so much ups and downs in life and my career. I don’t see it in that way.”
The Olympics is just 15 days away and assistant coach Jaidev Bisht is also supremely confident that his wards, especially the youngsters, will do well in the Games.
“The Beijing Games medal has changed the attitude and has given more confidence to the boxers. We always believed in the boxers and had faith that they can get medals and even this year we know they will get medals,” he said.