Vijender Singh clinched a rare double when he defeated Sergiy Derevyanchenko of Ukraine 12-4 to make the semifinals of the World boxing championships in Milan late on Wednesday night. The Olympic bronze medallist and the top seed in 75kg category thus became the first Indian boxer to win a World championship medal.

The lanky pugilist was extremely delighted to achieve the rare feat. “It is indeed exhilarating to have had the honour of breaking two barriers consecutively for India in boxing. This could be achieved because of the whole-hearted support, assistance and guidance from all quarters including the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF), my coaches, sparring partners, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and all my sponsors,” Vijender said after the quarterfinal bout.

Vijender’s quarterfinal bout was not a thoroughly one-sided affair as the scores might suggest. It had some exciting moments, too. After the first round, both Vijender and Derevyanchenko, a bronze winner at the last World championships in Chicago in 2007, were tied 1-1.

However, the second round became eventful with Vijender notching up two quick points and conceding two after getting a warning. At 4-4, the determined Indian garnered two more crucial points to take a 6-4 lead while going into the second break.

The third round was a cakewalk for the Haryana boxer who gathered as many as six points to make history.

Chief National Coach G.S. Sandhu wished Vijender the best for the rest of the championship.

“It is a fantastic feeling and I feel proud that we have achieved it together. Now that a medal at the World Championships is assured for Vijender, it will be our endeavour to try and change the colour from bronze to gold,” the veteran coach said.

In the semifinals on Friday, after a day of rest, Vijender will meet Uzbek Abbos Atoev, a gold medallist in the Chicago World championships. Vijender should be feeling confident in taking on the Uzbek as he had beaten him in the Asian championships in Zhuhai, China, two months ago.

IBF Secretary General Col. P.K. Muralidharan Raja showered praise on Vijender for his achievement.

“The first medal at the World championships is no fluke but the culmination of precise, scientific and progressive training imparted to our boxers over the past three years by our National coaches at NIS Patiala,” Col. Raja said.

“The International Boxing Association (AIBA) officials in Milan congratulated India for its first-ever World championship medal and the fact that many countries have invited India to have training-cum-competition exposures with them in preparation for 2012 London Olympics is proof that India has finally arrived at the World boxing scene in a big way,” he added.

Col Raja also thanked IBF President Abhay Singh Chautala for his support.

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