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Rio Olympics 2016: Indian boxing coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu upbeat about the boxers

Sandhu also felt that Devendro Singh could have made it to the Olympics.

Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu
Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu is more than happy with three boxers given the state of the sport in India

The 2016 Rio Olympics will witness the Indian boxing contingent field three pugilists – Shiva Thapa, Vikas Krishan and Shiva Thapa –  which can be considered ‘below par’ given that the country had sent eight boxers four years back at the 2012 London Olympics. But Indian boxing team head coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu has no qualms in painting a sanguine picture with just two months away for the start of the marquee event.

“You know the challenges that our boxers are facing because of the lack of federation in place; given this I couldn’t have asked for more – Vikas and Manoj have joined the Rio-bound team – I have no hesitation in saying that I’m chuffed to see three boys make the Olympic cut,” he says bubbling with the excitement of a youngster.

The veteran Dronacharya awardee coach is not sure whether India can field more boxers in Rio as three pugilists are taking part in the AIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for professional boxers, which will be held in Venezuela from July 3 to 8. “To be honest, I’m not sure how it works as these boxers have not been training with us. Let’s hope for the best.”

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Sandhu lauded Devendro Laishram Singh, who did not qualify for the Olympics despite winning bronze medals in both the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in China and Azerbaijan. “He fought hard in both the Olympic qualifiers but was unlucky to miss out on an Olympic berth. I felt he should have won both the semifinal bouts in China and Azerbaijan but the verdict did not go in our favour.”

The Indian head coach also aired his thoughts on the non-qualification of light heavyweight boxer Sumit Sangwan. “Sumit is a talented boxer coming off a long injury lay-off – he was up against a Russian opponent who is seeded number one and a tough opponent. It was tough going for him and I’m sure Sumit will learn from the Baku experience,” he observes.

One hopes that the three-member Indian boxing contingent makes the right noises in the ring in Rio.

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