Vijender & Co aim for first Asian C'ship gold in 15 yrs

He broke India's Olympic jinx in Beijing and now Vijender Singh, along with 10 others, returns to China aiming to end India's 15-year wait for a gold.

updated: June 04, 2009 10:18 IST
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New Delhi:

He broke India's Olympic jinx in Beijing and now Vijender Singh, along with 10 others, returns to China aiming to end the country's 15-year wait for a gold medal at the Asian Boxing Championships in Zhuhai.

Vijender had won a silver medal in the last edition held in 2007 in Mongolia and the 23-year-old says he is confident of improving the colour of his medal this time around.

"It's going to be a tough tournament but then no international competition is easy. I am confident of going the whole distance this time and getting a gold medal that has eluded us for the past 15 years," the Olympic bronze medallist said before the 11-member contingent left for China on Thursday.

More than himself, Vijender is confident about the prospect of his cousin Balwinder, an 18-year-old who will make his international debut at the event starting Sunday.

"I have trained with him. He is a fantastic boxer. I have more trust in him than even myself," he said.

Balwinder, on his part, is banking on Vijender's support to get over the jitters of competing in the elite tournament.

"Nervousness is there but having Vijender bhai around will make sure that it doesn't get too difficult to handle," said Balwinder.

One of India's four bronze medal winners in Mongolia was Jitender Kumar, who shifted to the bantamweight from flyweight this year. The event would be his first major test at the international level since making the jump.

"As I have always said, what counts is a gold medal. I have got used to the new format of three rounds of three minutes each and realised the importance of a good defence. So, I will definitely do better," Jitender said.

Another excited and nervous 18-year-old in the team is Thokchom Nanao Singh (48kg), who was a world champion at the youth level.

"This being my first international tournament, I am quite excited and nervous but hopefully, it won't show in the ring," he said.

Another prominent name in the squad is Chhote Lal Yadav (57kg). The 22-year-old from Uttar Pradesh substituted Olympian Akhil Kumar in the featherweight (57kg) division after the latter sustained a wrist injury while training.

"It's a lucky break and hopefully I will be able to prove myself. I have gold medals at the sub-junior and junior Asian Championships and I am aiming to complete the hat-trick at the senior level," said Yadav, the reigning national champion in the division.

The team will be accompanied by three coaches -- led by chief coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu.

"The last time we won a gold was in Tehran 1994. While I don't want to predict the number of medals we might win this time, the performance will certainly be very good," said Sandhu.

The other two coaches with the team are C Kuttappa and Jaidev Bisht.