Rio Olympics 2016: Three Indian pugilists to fight it out for Olympic qualification at Vargas qualifiers
Eight boxers comprised the Indian boxing contingent at the 2012 London Olympics and four years later, there are hushed whispers in boxing circles that the lack of federation in place is a big factor in the number dwindling down to three for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
But that number ‘three’ may become four, five or even six if the country’s boxers make the cut from the APB and WSB Olympic Qualifier, the final qualification event for the Rio Olympics which is being held in Vargas, Venezuela.
The trio of Gautam Bhiduri (52-kg), Neeraj Goyat (69-kg) and Dilbag Singh (81-kg) will look to turn out for the country after turning pro. All these boxers will have to finish in the top three (either reach the finals or win a box off of the semifinalists) of their division in order to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
The task could be well within their grasp – take for instance the case of Neeraj Goyat – only seven competitors are taking part, which means he was to win just two bouts to seal an Olympic berth. The situation is same for Gautam Bhiduri (52-kg), and Dilbag Singh (81-kg) as their respective weight categories have more or less the same number of boxers fighting for Olympic berths.
For Gautam Bhiduri, this is another shot at Olympic qualification – he had lost in the first round of the Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifying Event in China and was then replaced by Dheeraj Ranji for the World Olympic Qualifying Tourney in Azerbaijan last month.
It may be recalled that many big names have given this event a miss citing inadequate preparation time and fears of sanctions for pro bodies, after AIBA had announced a new ruling on June 1, allowing professional boxers an opportunity to play in the Olympics.
Even iconic Vijender Singh had an opportunity to feature in the Rio Olympics, but he did not show much interest, focusing on his upcoming pro boxing bouts instead.
“These boxers have a great opportunity to make the Olympic cut. Gautam Bhiduri missed his earlier opportunity but now can redeem himself in Vargas. Dilbag and Neeraj must see this as a big chance to represent the country on the Olympic stage,” says a former Indian boxing coach.