Former World Championships bronze medallist Vikas Krishan (69kg) and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Gaurav Solanki (57kg) sealed their places as the eight-member Indian men’s boxing squad for 1st Olympics Qualifying Event was decided at the Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary on Monday. The others who won the Selection Trials held over the last two days are Ashish Kumar (75kg), Sachin Kumar (81kg), Naman Tanwar (91kg) and Satish Kumar (91+kg).
Amit Panghal (52kg) and Manish Kaushik (63kg) had previously got a direct entry into the squad by virtue of winning a silver and a bronze respectively from the World Championships.
In a highly competitive 57kg category, Gaurav Solanki held his own to stave off the challenge of Asian Championships silver medallist Kavinder Singh Bisht in a split verdict. Solanki showed nerves of steel as he repeated that performance over Thailand Open silver medallist Mohammed Hussamuddin in the final to confirm his berth.
“Getting a win over the experienced Kavinder and Hussamuddin in such a tough category gives me immense confidence ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers and I would give my 100% to seal a place for India,” said an elated Solanki.
Two-time Olympian Vikas Krishan notched up commanding wins over Ashish Kulheria and national medallist Duryodhan Singh Negi in 69kg to keep alive his quest for a maiden Olympic medal.
“The win here pushed me one step closer to realizing my dream of getting an Olympic medal for my country. I also want to thank BFI and my coaches for their continuous support in my comeback,” said Krishan after his win.
In 91kg, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Naman Tanwar beat Naveen Kumar in an evenly-matched contest.
On Sunday, Asian Championships silver medallist Ashish Kumar (75kg), Sachin Kumar (81kg) and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg) had won their final bouts to make it to the squad. Ashish hardly faced any resistance in a strong display against South Asian Games gold medallist Ankit Khatana to record a unanimous victory in 75kg.
While Sachin defeated Brijesh Yadav to claim the 81kg spot, Satish won by a split verdict over Narender in +91kg.
The close bouts at the trials gave a good example of the depth of Indian men’s boxing, which is currently enjoying an all-time high with consistent performances and a host of medals from elite tournaments.
“There were very strong competitions with close bouts in each of the categories. The final squad looks really strong,” said Indian men’s boxing High Performance Director Santiago Nieva.
“We have a good one month before the Olympic qualifiers. We are going to train hard and work on the necessary adjustments required. It was good to see how strongly Gaurav Solanki came back against Hussamuddin in the tough bout. That’s what says a lot about the depth of Indian men’s boxing. As for Vikas, he is very focussed and we have high hopes from him,” he added.
The Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be held from February 3 to 14, 2020 in Wuhan, China.
Indian men’s squad for Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifier:
1: Amit Panghal (52kg)
2: Gaurav Solanki (57kg)
3: Manish Kaushik (63 kg)
4: Vikas Krishan (69kg)
5: Ashish Kumar (75kg)
6: Sachin Kumar (81kg)
7: Naman Tanwar (91kg)
8: Satish Kumar (91+kg)