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Vijender Singh beats Derevyanchenko, assured of a medal

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DISTINCTION: Vijender Singh has become the first Indian pugilist to get a World championship medal
DISTINCTION: Vijender Singh has become the first Indian pugilist to get a World championship medal

Sports Reporter

NEW DELHI: 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 the 75kg category thus became the first Indian boxer to win a World championship medal.

Vijender now has a second global medal to add to his bronze in the Beijing Olympics. Last year, too, he had the distinction of being the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal.

The lanky pugilist was extremely delighted to achieve the rare feat in the Italian city. However, he is yet to celebrate the success as the job, for him, is half-done now.

“I have not celebrated at all. The next target is to win my bout (the semifinals) tomorrow. I am taking one bout at a time and not thinking about the gold medal now,” Vijender told The Hindu from Milan on Thursday.

The 23-year-old was humble in his hour of glory.

“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.

Tough 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.

Cakewalk

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, the 81kg 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.

Akhil’s praise

Fellow boxer Akhil Kumar hailed Vijender’s effort, saying “This will take Indian boxing forward. It shows that Indian boxing is going ahead and will bring more glory.”

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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