Commonwealth Games 2018: 'The federation has done their part and now we must deliver,' says Manoj Kumar
The preparations of the boxing contingent of India has been on full blast for the upcoming XXI Commonwealth Games that will be held in Gold Coast, Australia from the 4th to the 15th of April, next month. On the sidelines of an event hosted by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) in New Delhi, star boxer Manoj Kumar offered his views about the chances and aspirations of this year's team in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.
Unlike the previous Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 where the results of the boxing team were nothing remarkable, this year seeks to correct that history. Kumar is particularly impressed with the support that has been showed towards the sport by the newly constituted Federation and by the new president, Ajay Singh.The recent recognition of the BFI by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) appears to have changed fortunes of the sport in the country.
"With the new Federation coming into being, our sport has received ample support from their side which was not there so much earlier", said Kumar. "Their constant support has egged on the players to give their very best."
Manoj Kumar is particularly hoping that the initiative adopted by the Sports Ministry will help the players achieve success.
"The Sports Minister, who is an Olympics silver medalist himself, really understands what needs to be done. He knows what kind of backing the athletes need from a very young age has taken wise and helpful decisions," he said.
The authorities have started to give talented young athletes a monthly grant of Rs. 50,000 which has been categorically instrumental in furthering the chances and provoking the improvement of the game. Praising the impact of this decision, Kumar said, "This is a very important step taken and I salute them for this."
Boxing is no doubt a sport which keeps shying from hogging the limelight. With seasoned and experienced players like Manoj Kumar, Vikas Krishan, Mary Kom and Sarita Devi in the contingent, there is a lot of potential in this year's team.
"I have full faith and expectations from the present team and it is arguably the best team India has seen. There is a proper mix of experience and youth and I'm sure we will win more medals than in Glasgow", said Kumar about India's boxing medal prospects in Gold Coast.
Slowly boxing has been gaining ground in India and thankfully, the players have been exposed to a variety of tournaments which is enough to impart experience to them.
Asked about his personal hopes and expectations for the upcoming sporting extravaganza, the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist reflected, "I have full confidence in myself. I had won a gold medal in 2010 and I will be looking to repeat that feat in Gold Coast. If God stays with me then I can hopefully repeat my feat this year."
Having recently won the bronze medal at the India Open, he is blessed with a good form currently and he is sure to pack a few punches and make his way to winning a gold medal again.
To get things rolling and underway, the Boxing Federation of India has already sent the 12-member team, comprising eight men and four women to Canberra where they will undergo a week-long acclimatisation camp at the Australian Institute of Sports in before the Gold Coast Games begin in April.
Kumar informed that some of the other participating countries will also be in the camp and they will be refining and practising their fighting skills against each other. He regards this kind of training to be essential and is highly optimistic about reaping the best of the Commonwealth Games ahead.
"Heading off to Australia a week earlier will be very beneficial for us. We will get to see the other boxers and get an idea beforehand on how the competition is going to be," he said.
The chances of India's boxers making their way to fame and glory is immensely high this season. With the kind of preparations that have been going on, we expect to see a few medals coming India's way. And even the experienced boxer knows it.
"The federation has done all that they could do and now, if we cannot deliver, it is on us," Kumar concluded.