Jitender enters quarters in style

The Bhiwani boxer beat Uzbekistan's Tulashboy Dobniyorov 13-6 in the 51 kg flyweight pre-quarters.

updated: August 22, 2008 09:00 IST
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A day after Akhil Kumar's giant-killing act, the boxing ring in the Olympics here brought more good news for India today as another pugilist Jitender scripted a sensational all-the-way victory against Uzbekistan's Tulashboy Doniyorov in a bout marred by frayed tempers to move into the pre-quarter final.

However, Indian athletes continued to put up a disappointing show with discus thrower Vikas Gowda and short distance runner Mandeep Kaur (400m) falling by the wayside in the qualification rounds.

Making his Olympic debut, Jitender Kumar, the 21-year-old dimunitive flyweight boxer from Haryana, swamped his Uzbek counterpart 13-6 in the four-round encounter and needs just one more victory to ensure himself and India a medal, following the footsteps of his cousin and mentor Akhil who reached the 54kg quarterfinals on Friday.

Jitender, who led in all the rounds today, meets three-time European champion Russian Georgy Balakshin in the last eight on August 20 and gets a chance to avenge his defeat in the 2007 World Championship by just one point.

"It's going to be tough against him. The last time we met it was too close to call and he (Balakshin) managed to sneak past riding on his luck but this time I am better prepared," Jitender said.

"This time I'm not going to spare him. Akhil has beaten him in the past and I'll ask Akhil how to crack him," he added.

In winning the bout, Jitender displayed maturity beyond his age and won an essentially a tactical battle. He landed the first blow on the Uzbek and led 4-1 after the opening round. Having established the lead, he protected it even if constant evading did not look glamorous.

Tulashboy became increasingly frustrated and it told on his performance. In the subsequent rounds, the two boxers were grappling each other as much as they were boxing.

Initially struggling to breach Tulashboy's defence, Jitender went for a subterfuge. He threw upper-cuts so that Tulashboy lowered the guard and then unleashed vicious jabs bang on targets to score crucial points.

Though the Uzbek was more aggressive of the two his inability to connect against a fast-moving Jitender did him in and the Indian bagged the lone second round point to stretch his lead.

Tulashboy went all out in the final two rounds but Jitender spent most of the time, bobbing and weaving. And when he went in, he did so with a purpose and the Uzbek could never actually pin him down.

In fact, through the four rounds Tulashboy managed to land just four punches on Jitender his other two points came from penalty compared to 11 blows that Jitender successfully unleashed on the Uzbek.

The track and field events continued to throw up disappointment as Vikas Gowda's Beijing Olympics campaign wilted in the qualifying round itself with the US-based Indian discus thrower failing to reach anywhere near his personal best on Saturday.

Gowda, who had a similar experience four years ago at the Athens Olympics, hurled the discus 60.69 to finish 11th in Group A and 22nd overall, a performance way below his personal best and national record of 64.96m.