New Delhi: Vijender Singh is probably the only recognised name in Indian boxing at the moment but by the time the London Olympics draws to a close, several other pugilists would become famous, believes India’s boxing coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu.
The Indian boxing team returned home on Sunday after undergoing two weeks of training in Ireland. The seven-member team will leave for London next week in order to get acclimatised with the conditions.
Sandhu said that though expectations will be high from Vijender, the three teenagers in the squad might steal the show.
Never before in India’s history were so many young boxers sent to take part in the “biggest show on earth.” While Shiva Thapa (56kg) is only 18, Vikas Krishan (69kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) are only a year older than the sensational pugilist from Assam.
“There is no doubt that Vijender still remains our biggest hope, but the youngsters would soon become the face of Indian boxing,” said Sandhu, who would retire from Sports Authority of India (SAI) after the Olympics.
“Some might feel that these teenagers are getting the exposure too early… But I’m confident they would prove their worth. They are fearless and tactically competent enough to beat the best in the world.”
Among the three, the boxing coaches feel Shiva and Vikas have a better chance of finishing with a medal. He said that Sumit would certainly be no pushover but the Indians are not known for doing well in the higher categories.
Vikas has had a meteoric rise. After claiming a World Youth title, a Youth Olympics medal and the 2010 Asian Games gold, he became the second Indian to grab a World championship medal.
Shiva was successful in the Youth Olympics and World Youth events before stamping his class at the senior level through a silver in the Czech Republic Grand Prix. He made it to the Olympics in style as he bagged the Asian qualifying event gold.
“The stint in Ireland was of great benefit, especially for the three teenagers,” said one of the coaches. “All of them have come up very quickly thanks to our good system. When Akhil Kumar and Dinesh Kumar lost their form, Shiva and Vikas immediately took their places.”