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Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu paints realistic picture ahead of Olympic boxing qualifiers

The veteran coach is now focused on the upcoming selection trials, which will be held in NIS Patiala on March 7 and 8.

 ‘The quota places allocated for APB and WSB events have made things indeed tough for us’

Indian boxers are putting in the hard yards ahead of their forthcoming Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament to be held at Qian'an, China from March 23 to April 3. Expectations will run high about a sizeable number of Indian pugilists qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics to be held in July-August.

Indian men’s boxing team head coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu chooses to paint a realistic picture.

“You have to understand that qualifying rules have changed since the 2012 London Olympics. At the last Olympics, a quarterfinalist at the 2011 World Championship made it to the 2012 Olympics but now somebody like Vikas Krishnan Yadav has not qualified for the Olympics, despite bagging a bronze medal at the World Championship. The quota places allocated for APB and WSB events have made things indeed tough for us. I’m sure the number of Indian boxers will be lesser in Rio Olympics then what it was at the 2012 London Olympics.”

“Ten men boxers and three women boxers will feature in the Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament in China. We are likely to leave for China on March 20,” says Sandhu.

Indian boxing has been hit hard by the non-existence of a federation ever since Boxing India was derecognized in early 2015 – it effectively meant no national-level meets were held leading to huge frustration among the promising boxers, who are staring at uncertainty over their boxing future.

“A lot of damage has happened - there is no doubt about that. Our boxers will try hard to overcome all these impediments and make the Olympic cut. Let’s see how our boxers perform in China,” Sandhu says.

Indian boxing badly needs a federation in place and also a body that quickly secures AIBA recognition so that our boxers can fight at the Rio Olympics under the national flag and not under the AIBA flag as has been the case over the recent months.

Indian boxers take extreme pride in playing for the country and the coming months they will hope they can boxer under the country’s flag at Rio.

Nothing can match the sight of a country’s tricolor being unfurled at a medal distribution ceremony at Olympics.

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