Akhil wants to retain Commonwealth Games title (Lead, superseding earlier story)

September 29th, 2010 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

By Alkesh Sharma
New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Life has turned full circle for Akhil Kumar. Four years ago in Melbourne, he was only the second Indian boxer to win gold in the Commonwealth Games, and many believe that his feat inspired India’s string of recent success in the sport, including Vijender’s Olympic bronze.

Four years on, Akhil, who won gold in 54 kg category in Melbourne but has now shifted to 56 kg category, wants to prove that he is still the best. He has promised himself a gold on home turf.

“My eyes are fixed on the gold medal. Nothing less will do. I am desperate to win the gold,” Akhil told IANS.

“I could not win a medal in the Beijing Olympics and it still hurts,” says Akhil, who lost in the quarterfinals.

“I have prepared hard for this Commonwealth Games and if everything goes as per my plan, I will surely win the yellow metal in front of my home crowd,” he said.

“It was a memorable moment for me in Melbourne when I won the gold as I was the second Indian after Mohammad Ali Qamar (2002) to win the gold. Now I want to retain the gold.

“Besides my stiff training, I have prayers and good wishes of my family members, wife and friends. This is like a do or die situation and I really want to come out winner.”

“The countdown has begun and I am keeping my fingers crossed.”

One among the famous trio of Vijender Singh and Jitender Kumar who put Bhiwani on the international boxing map, Akhil does not have any major international medal to show in the last couple of years. Injuries took a toll on him and critics wrote him off.

The unusual open stance technique of Akhil has come in for criticism, but that is how he has lived his life on and off the ring. The aggressive streak has helped him bulldoze his way through several difficulties — fighting his way up to the top from a humble background.

At 29, Akhil is waiting for another hurrah to prolong his international career.

“Injuries did hamper my preparations in the past. Destiny has not been on my side. Training at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala has helped a lot to overcome my shortcomings. Now I am in the best shape. I am doing a lot of meditation these days and trying to keep myself relaxed and calm,” says the Arjuna awardee.

Akhil is expecting India to win its biggest haul in boxing in the Commonwealth Games. “We can win at least three to four gold medals.”

“Our good international performance has drawn fans to boxing. Earlier, we hardly had boxing fans, but now there are a large number of fans who follow boxing in India. This is quite encouraging for us,” said Akhil.

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