Amman (Jordan), March 8 (IANS) Asian Championships gold medallist Pooja Rani (75kg), two-time World Championships bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Vikas Krishan (69kg) became the first three Indian boxers to seal their places at the Tokyo Olympics as they entered the semi-finals of the Asian/Oceania Olympic Qualifiers here on Sunday.
Krishan had to dig deep and show his resolve in a tough bout against the third seed and Asian Championships silver medallist Sewonrets Okazawa of Japan, whom he eventually beat 5-0. The fourth-seeded Pooja Rani, meanwhile, had it easy as she ran away to a commanding 5-0 win over Thailand’s Pornnipa Chutee.
Later in the day, the second seed in women’s 69kg, Lovlina Borgohain sealed her maiden Olympic spot and a semi-final berth at this event with a fabulous show of aggression that gave her a flawless 5-0 victory over Uzbek boxer Maftunakhon Melieva.
The only disappointment for India in the first session of the first quarter-final day was the tight 2-3 loss suffered by Sachin Kumar in 81kg against the experienced Daxaing Chen of China.
His Olympic dreams are still not over yet as in the 81 kg category, 5 boxers will qualify and Sachin will get yet another chance with a box-off opportunity; where the losing quarterfinalist players will have yet another shot.
International Women’s Day fittingly started with a powerful performance from Pooja Rani, who became the first Indian boxer to seal an Olympic berth for India at the 2020 Games. Riding on a mix of left cross and right jabs, Rani refused to relent and thoroughly outpunched her opponent to ensure that she appears at the mega quadrennial Games for the very first time.
“I had never played against my opponent before nor did I ever watch any of her bouts. I was a bit scared before the bout. My coaches really helped me a lot by chalking out a strategy and that instilled confidence in me. I am very happy to have executed it perfectly and get the all-important Tokyo Olympic berth for India,” said an elated Pooja Rani after her win.
Rani has a tough task at hand next as she faces the reigning world and Asian champion Li Qian of China, who is also the top seed in women’s 75kg.
Vikas Krishan, a former Asian Games gold medallist, was the next one to book the Tokyo ticket, although he had to work harder for the win. Vikas’s composure under pressure and his straight punches helped him grab the win to become only the second Indian boxer since Vijender Singh to qualify for three Olympic Games.