Devendro Singh’s bittersweet feeling of winning two bronze medals and missing the Olympic bus
It’s a strange feeling to be in the shoes of Laishram Devendro Singh – a bit of a ‘bittersweet feeling’ for the talented Manipuri boxer, who won consecutive bronze medals in the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in Qia’nan, China and Baku, Azerbaijan and yet missed out on the coveted Olympic berth.
The fact that Devendro managed to reach the semifinals of both the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments tells us something about the extremely competitive nature of qualifying for the Olympics. The light flyweight category (49-kg) has fierce competition as only the finalists make the Olympic cut. Devendro’s inability to make it to the finals of both Olympic qualifiers spelt doomsday for him.
At the Asian Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament held Qia’nan, China in March-April this year, Devendro outpunched Malaysia and Chinese Taipei opponents before he lost to Philippines’ Rogen Laden in the semifinals.
Again at the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Baku, Azerbaijan, the talented Indian pugilist overcame Argentinean and South African opponents to make it to the semifinal, where he went down to Spain’s Samuel Carmona – the only difference between the two Olympic Qualifying Tournaments is that an Asian halted his Olympic qualifying bid in China and a European opponent stopped his Olympic qualifying bid in Azerbaijan.
Supported by Olympic Gold Quest, the 24-year-old was seen as a big medal hope for the Olympics – and not qualifying for the Olympics must be a low point in his fledgling career. Of course, at 24 all is not over for Devendro but surely, he wouldn’t have imagined not making it to the Rio Olympics after storming into the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympics.
The Olympic qualifying norms have become tougher unlike the last Olympics when the top-8 from the 2011 Baku World Championship qualified for the London Olympics – Devendro had put up a splendid showing in that event cruising into the quarterfinal where he lost to formidable Shin Jong-Hun of Korea. In fact, Devendro was unlucky to lose his 2012 Olympics quarterfinal bout against Ireland’s Paddy Barnes, and who knows, he could have landed a bronze for India if the outcome had gone in his favour.
Now from being ‘on the cusp of bagging an Olympic medal four years ago to not qualifying for the Rio Olympics’ is a ‘reality’ Devendro has to cope with and emerge as a better boxer in future replete with steely resolve.