Three Indian boxers a bout away from medal (India lead)

August 16th, 2008 - 11:16 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 16 (IANS) India are on course for an unprecedented three Olympic boxing medals as Jitender Kumar and Vijender Kumar joined Akhil Kumar in the quarterfinals in Beijing Saturday. The pugilists’ wonderful showing has sent Indian hopes of landing more medals soaring, with the three boxers only needing to win their quarter final bouts to grab at least the bronze which is awarded to both the losing semifinalists in the sport. But all the three insist they are going to settle for nothing less than the gold, and their performance clearly proves the boast is not empty.

Just when it seemed India’s medal chances had dried up after shooter Abhinav Bindra’s historic feat of winning the country’s first ever individual Olympic gold Monday, the heartwarming showing of the boxers not only lifted the spirits of the few remaining members of the contingent, but also more than made up for the dismal performance in the track and field.

Twenty year old flyweight (51 kg) boxer Jitender outshone his Uzbek rival Tulashboy Doniyorov 13-6, before middleweight (75 kg) competitor Vijender let loose a flurry of punches to flummox Thailand’s Angkhan Chomphuphuang 13-3 in one-sided pre-quarterfinal bouts at the Workers Gymnasium.

The 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Akhil gave India an Independence Day gift Friday by scraping into the last eight of the bantamweight (54 kg) class and would clash with Moldovan Gojan Veaceslav Monday for a place in the pre-summit round.

Jitender is drawn to meet a formidable opponent in three-time European flyweight champion Georgy Balakshin of Russia, while Vijender takes on Ecuadorian Carlos Gongora Tuesday.

Vijender opened up a 2-0 lead in the first round, and by the end of the second extended it to 6-1. The Indian rained punches in the third round scoring four points to widen the gulf to 10-1.

The Thai gained a couple of points in the last round but that was not enough to stop the Indian’s march to the quarterfinal. The trend for the Jitender-Doniyorov bout was set in the first 15 seconds, when the Uzbek displayed a tendency to hold and push.

But the Indian also was doing the same to avoid coming into the range of the southpaw, who is known for delivering a killer punch.

Jitender opened the scoring in the first 30 seconds with two quick points. The Uzbek, too, opened his scoring, but before the round could end Jitender landed two more clean punches to make it 4-1.

Into the second round, there were no points for either boxer for almost a minute and a quarter, before Jitender opened the scoring for the round with a upper cut. That was the sole point of the second round at the end of which Jitender was 5-1 up.

In the third round, Jitender worked himself into an excellent position at 11-4, despite the Uzbek taking two points in the last five seconds.Jitender had a cut on the chin in the third round, but fought on oblivious of any discomfort.

In the last round, the Indian was careful to stay away from the southpaw’s range, and with a minute to go he was 12-6 up. He continued to dance around and virtually got the Uzbek to come in and managed yet another point to make it 13-6 and earn a place in the quarterfinals.

Jitender later said: “He (Doniyorov) was also fighting with a good footwork. Although I was enjoying the lead, there was some problem when I was told by my coaches that I have received a cut on my chin. It was a bit of problem. But finally I won.”

In the showpiece track and field, Indian competitors once again failed miserably, and were even unable to come near the feats they had achieved to earn the Olympic berth in the first place. As a result, discus thrower, Vikas Gowda and quarter-miler Mandeep Kaur, were both eliminated in the qualification rounds itself.

Gowda, 2005 Asian Championship silver medallist, came to the Games with a personal best of 64.96 metres, but managed only 60.69m and finished 11th in the Group B and 22nd overall to finish his Olympic campaign.

Mandeep Kaur, who has been credited with 51.74s at the Madurai Nationals, was more than a second slower in 52.88s and finished sixth in the seven-runner heat. Mandeep was 33rd overall in the field of 50 runners.

The three heptathletes - G.G.Pramila, J.J. Shobha and Susmita Singha Roy - also finished way behind.

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