Indian boxers created history with a highest-ever haul of nine Olympic quotas, surpassing the eight they had earned at the 2012 London Games as World Championships bronze medallist Manish Kaushik (63kg) upset the Commonwealth Games champion and second seed, Harrison Garside of Australia 4-1, in the box-off bout at the Asian/Oceanian Olympic Qualifiers in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday.
The nine quotas also ensured that this was India’s highest ever qualification from a single qualifier. The other 8 quotas have been brought home by Mary Kom (51kg), Amit Panghal (52kg), Pooja Rani (75kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg).
India has a chance to add further with the boxers, who failed in their quest at the Asian Qualifiers, getting one more opportunity to realize their Olympic dream at the World Qualifiers to be held in Paris in May. India’s brilliant performance at the Asian Qualifiers also propelled them to the top position, where they are tied with Kazakhstan among 10 nations.
Having lost in the quarter-finals, Kaushik was presented with one more chance of securing his maiden appearance at the mega quadrennial Games with the top six from 63kg eligible for Olympic quotas. This time he made no mistake.
In a brutal box-off bout that saw Garside fighting with a bloodied face, Kaushik endured some hard blows and a stiff challenge from his opponent to fulfil his Olympic dream. The 4-1 win also helped him avenge his 2018 Commonwealth Games final defeat to Garside. Sachin Kumar (81kg), however, did not have the same fortune as he was blanked 0-5 by Tajikistan’s Shabbos Negmatulloev in the box-off final.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games champion Vikas Krishan (69kg) had to settle for the silver medal after a left eye injury forced him to give a walkover to Jordan’s Zeyad Eashash on medical advice. The cut above his left eye hampered the former Asian Games champion’s training and also prevented him from making the weight for the bout in the morning, that necessitated the pull-out.
The Indian contingent still has one more chance to finish their glorious campaign with gold with former World Championships bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur (60kg) taking on former two-time Asian champion Oh Yeon Ji of South Korea in the final.
(Image credits: Twitter/@KirenRijiju)