New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) Boxing Federation of India (BFI) President Ajay Singh on Saturday said organising a send-off event for the 12-member strong Indian boxing team participating in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, starting April 4, was to show the pugilists that they carry the expectations of a billion people.
Leading India’s charge in the men’s division will be Manoj Kumar (69kg) and Vikas Krishnan (75kg), alongside the likes of Manish Kaushik (60kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg), Naman Talwar (91kg), Gaurav Solanki (52kg), Hussam Mohammed (56kg) and Amit Phangal.
Five-time World Champion and Olympic medallist M.C. Mary Kom (48kg) will spearhead the women’s charge at the famous Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast, alongside 2006 World Champion L. Sarita Devi (60kg), giant-killing Pinky Rani (51kg) and young Lovlina Boroghain (69kg).
“We (BFI) just want them to know that we have 1.3 billion people behind them and that everybody is praying for them and wishes them well,” Singh told IANS on the sidelines of the send-off event at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.
“We are there to cheer for them, whether they win or lose but we do hope they come back with a lot of medals.”
The event was attended by Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General Neelam Kapoor and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Rajeev Mehta, who also expressed confidence of a rich medal haul.
On being asked about the criteria of selecting the team for the CWG, which co-incidentally precedes the Asian Games in August, Singh said: “Our focus is on the medals, so we have selected a team which we believe can get us the maximum possible medals in the Games.”
“In some case, we are building a bench strength of boxers, so many of them are equally as good as those in the team that is going. But ultimately we have to take a call on who are the best medal prospects for us,” he added.
Exuding confidence on returning with a pocketful of medals, Manoj Kumar said: “We have worked very hard over the last six months, which included precision training.”
“A series of exposure trips have also helped us to prepare the right way which have also boosted our confidence,” he added.
The women’s categories were introduced only in 2014 and India promptly won a silver and a bronze medal apiece.