Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Sunday congratulated India boxers Vikas Krishan (69 kg) and Pooja Rani (75 kg) for qualifying for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Rijiju took to Twitter and wrote, "Great news! Pooja Rani becomes 1st Indian boxer to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Congratulations Pooja!"
In another tweet, he said, "Another thrilling news! Vikas Krishan becomes our 2nd boxer to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Congratulations Vikas!"
"I had never fought against this girl before today and honestly, I was a bit scared. I had told my coaches about it before the bout. They instilled confidence in me and I could pull off a one-sided result. I am happy," said the 29-year-old Rani, who fought career-threatening shoulder and hand injuries before her gold at last year's Asian Championships.
Pooja advanced to the semi-final of Asian/Oceanian Olympic qualifiers after defeating Thailand's Pomnipa Chutee 5-0. With this victory, she became the first Indian boxer to qualify for Tokyo Olympics. Rani will next face the reigning world and Asian champion Li Qian of China, who has the top billing in this category. Qian had no trouble beating Mongolia's Myagmarjargal Munkhbat 5-0 in the opening bout of the day.
Krishan, however, had to slog hard against a brilliant boxer, whose performance was eye-catching despite the loss. Okazawa, a gold-winner at the Olympic Test Event last year, kept Krishan on his toes with his right jabs being particularly effective. What worked for the Indian was the consistent straight punches to the body, which fetched him the bulk of the points. Later in the day, four Indians will be playing the quarter-final bouts. Lovlina Borgohain (69 kg), Ashish Kumar (75 kg), Sachin Kumar (81 kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg) will all be looking to win their respective bouts and seal their Tokyo tickets.
(With agency inputs)