Commonwealth Games 2018: Despite dope setback, expect Indian boxers to punch their way to podium

The Commonwealth Games (CWG) at the Gold Coast, Australia will take off from 5 April 2018, and the Indian boxing teams have already arrived at the venue for acclimatisation and pre-game training. The team consists of four women and eight men boxers who were picked up after a selection trial held in the presence of the members of the boxing selection committee of Boxing Federation India (BFI). Indians in general have been performing well in the Commonwealth Games since 2002, when they picked up their first Gold medal in the games at Manchester in the light fly weight category through Ali Qamar, a Bengal boxer.

In the Gold Coast Games, the composition of the team appears to be good and the Indian boxers will certainly be amongst medalists. In the women's team there are two very experienced women boxers namely MC Mary Kom(48kg) and L Sarita Devi (60kg), both hailing from Manipur, and if all goes well, they will certainly make a podium finish in their respective weight categories. The other two boxers L Borgohain (69kg) and Pinki Rani (51kg) will face tough challenges, which they have to overcome to clinch the elusive medal. Borgohain and Pinki lack enough exposures at the European circuit and both had only training exposure in Dublin in the recent past.

 Commonwealth Games 2018: Despite dope setback, expect Indian boxers to punch their way to podium

The Indian boxing team for CWG 2018. Image credit: Official Facebook page of Boxing Federation of India

The men's team consists of eight boxers with a combination of experience and talent and their main threat will come from the European circuit. Australia being the host country most likely has prepared their team well, so they will also throw a tough challenge to the Indians. The men's team comprises Amit Kumar(49kg), Gaurav Solanki(52kg), Mohammad Hussamuddin (56kg) Manish Kaushik (60kg), Manoj Kumar (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg) Naman Tanwar (91kg). While Vikas and Manoj have vast experience, others are comparetively new to the international arena, and a lot will depend on their preparedness and mental strength. Tanwar won a gold medal in Kazakistan in December 2017, but he should guard well his defense as European and Australians will pose a stiff challenge in the heavier categories.

Surprisingly, the BFI  has not included two senior chief coaches Swatantra Raj Singh(men) and Shiv Singh(women) in their boxing contingent for Gold Coast, and instead, foreign coaches have been sent with the team which may have detrimental effects on the boxers' performance.

In the meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the entire contingent has been subjected to dope test by the Australian anti-doping agency. A syringe was reportedly found in front of a boxer’s room in the Games Village which created a hue and cry as it was considered as a breach of CWG’s no-needle policy to keep the games free of doping. Though the test results are yet to be received, this is being viewed as a serious setback for the Indian contingent before the start of the event.

The draw of the bouts have since taken place, and the first Indian boxer to enter the ring would be Manoj in 69kg category, who will face his Nigerian counterpart to open the Indian challenges on Thursday. While Amit and Tanwar have been drawn to box on 6 April, Solanki and Kaushik will open their accounts on 9 April, with Satish Kumar getting into the ring a day later. Vikas will test the blood of winner between Granada and Australia on 8 April.

In the women's section Sarita will challenge her Barbados counterpart on the opening bout this Saturday, while Indian boxing legend Mary Kom and Borgohain will compete with Scotland and England respectively on the following day. Rani will challenge her English counterpart on 11 April.

The standard of CWG is inferior in comparison to Asian Games and strong boxing nations from Asia like Uzbekistan, Tazakistan, Kyrgyztan, Philippines, and Thailand etc will not participate being non-Commonwealth countries. Out of the European and African nations participating, Nigeria, England, Ireland, South Africa and Australia will pose good challenges to Indian pugilists.

In the overall medal tally, and quite expectedly so, India will maintain its ranking among the first five and medals from badminton, shooting, and athletics etc will keep the country’s name in the upper bracket.

Updated Date: Apr 03, 2018 23:15:16 IST

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