India’s Olympic firsts: Vijender Singh’s 2008 bronze and Indian boxing’s most well-known ‘punch-tantra’ story | Tokyo Olympics Information

NEW DELHI: 13 summers in the past, when Vijender Singh landed in Beijing for his second Olympics (2008), the “indicators” he believes in have been unmistakable. A 22-year-old boxer from Bhiwani in Haryana, often known as ‘Little Cuba’ for producing many boxers, had a way of conviction that saved getting stronger.
Lower than three months earlier than the Beijing Olympics, Vijender made the boxing world sit up and spot him. On the AIBA President’s Cup, he shocked the 2004 Olympic gold medallist Bakhtiyar Artayev of Kazakhstan. It was additionally revenge for the semifinal defeat towards Artayev on the 2006 Asian Video games.
Vijender knew he was prepared for Beijing, after which ‘issues’ began telling him that one thing particular was on its method. It turned out to be a historic Olympic bronze — the primary medal for India in boxing.
“I imagine in indicators,” stated Vijender speaking to, as he loved sitting below an overcast sky on the terrace of his dwelling in Delhi.
“I used to like Audi automobiles at the moment. After I landed in Beijing, I noticed lots of Audis. I feel it was additionally one of many official sponsors of the 2008 Olympics.”


Vijender Singh (Twitter Picture)
It caught Vijender’s consideration, however only for these 30-45 minutes whereas the contingent was being pushed to the Athlete’s Village.
“Three of us have been sharing the identical room on the Village — Dinesh (Kumar), Anthresh (Lakra) and I — and I shortly took the mattress close to the window (laughs).”
Vijender’s opening bout of the middleweight division was on August 9. It was a straightforward 13-2 win over Jack Badou of Gambia. There was a spot of seven days earlier than the pre-quarterfinal bout. In between, one other incident strengthened Vijender’s perception in “indicators”.
“We had simply completed our breakfast when a overseas coach approached me. He was from Iran or Iraq, I do not keep in mind precisely,” stated Vijender sifting by means of his recollections.
“He addressed me in damaged English, ‘India, India? (you might be from India?)’. I nodded, and he went on so as to add: ‘India good, you’re going to get (win a medal).’ I do not know if he knew me or not, however he got here to me immediately. I all the time keep in mind this.
“These have been the little issues that turned indicators, made me constructive.”


Picture credit score: Vijender Singh’s Twitter deal with
Earlier than the Beijing Video games, Vijender’s declare to fame was an Asian Video games bronze medal and a silver on the Commonwealth Video games, each in 2006. In his Olympic debut two years earlier than that in Athens, Vijender was ousted within the first spherical of the welterweight division by Turkey’s Mustafa Karagollu.
However the scenes at Beijing turned an increasing number of promising with each bout. Vijender progressed to the quarterfinals with one other spectacular win, a 13-3 victory over Thailand’s Angkhan Chomphuphuang within the Spherical of 16.
The last-eight bout was 4 days later, on August 20, towards Ecuador’s Carlos Gongora.
Gongora, too, had entered the quarterfinals with a rousing 12-1 triumph. With each Vijender and Gongora towering at 6 toes in top, the attain of their punches was a typical power.
A win within the quarterfinals additionally got here with the added assurance of ending up on the rostrum (a semifinal look in boxing is rewarded with a bronze medal, even when the athlete loses).
Historical past was within the making, and an in depth contest was anticipated. It turned out to be one.
Vijender gained the hardest battle of his profession and have become the primary ever boxer from India to win an Olympic medal, with the color to be determined within the semifinals. He defeated Gongora with a margin of 9-4 in the long run.
The thrill inside the Indian contingent was palpable, and Vijender was flooded with congratulatory messages. However the euphoria, maybe, shifted Vijender’s focus whereas nonetheless being within the fray for gold.
Vijender realises now that the celebrations may have waited.


Picture credit score: Vijender Singh’s Twitter deal with
“I imagine till an athlete is within the competitors, he mustn’t exit usually or meet individuals. That is the error we made (earlier than the semis). I nonetheless keep in mind that. However that is what it’s, we study,” he stated with a way of remorse in his voice.
The semifinal towards Cuba’s Emilio Correa was one other punch-for-punch battle. However the Cuban managed to get the higher of Vijender and gained 8-5.
However historical past was made on August 22, 2008. A boxer from India, Vijender Singh, had gained an Olympic medal for the primary time. He’s nonetheless the one male boxer to take action. MC Mary Kom turned the primary Indian feminine boxer to realize the feat together with her bronze on the London 2012 Video games.
“I used to be the underdog,” Vijender, who obtained the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2009 and the Padma Shri in 2010 additional informed
“After I got here again from Beijing, my pals known as me and stated, ’till now we had solely seen in motion pictures how life can change’.
“Two years later, in 2010, I used to be driving my very own Audi. The indicators have been there.”

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