New Delhi:He may not have won a gold at the Beijing Olympics but medal or no medal, boxer Akhil Kumar remains the face of the most successful Olympic contingent as he received a tumultuous welcome here in the wee hours on Tuesday.
After his pre-quarterfinals match, where he outpunched world bantamweight champion Sergey Vodopyanov, Akhil had said, "Please don't forget me if i can't win a medal," and his fans did not disappoint him as they thronged the Indira Gandhi International airport to welcome home their new sport icon.
Akhil along with Jitender, who also reached the quarter finals, was given a heroes welcome by his over-enthusiastic fans as they carried the boxers on shoulders all around the airport premise.
Huge garlands dangled around Akhil's neck as crazy fans hugged him and even coaxed him for autographs chanting slogans and hailing him high and low.
Reporters and photographers mounted on each other to have a reaction from the Bhiwani boxers. The reception was such that even Akhil was awestruck.
"When I returned, the emigration officer asked me for an autograph, it was for the first time that something of this sort happened, I am delighted and overwhelmed at the response," Akhil said.
"I am thankful to media for their love and support. If you continue to encourage us in this way, I am sure this time it is bronze, next it will be gold," he said.
The Indian boxers have given a fillip to boxing and have placed India in the global boxing map and Akhil says with better facilities boxer will do well but reckoned self commitment remains to be the key.
"I am hopeful now that we have proved our mettle, better days are ahead but I think self commitment and self confidence will be the key for the boxers," he said.