As many as 5 Indian boxers secured their places in this year’s Tokyo Olympic on Sunday by advancing to the Asian Qualifiers semi-finals courtesy of quarter-final victories. This included the seasoned pair of Pooja Rani (75kg) and Vikas Krishan (69kg) as well.
While fourth-seeded Rani notched up an easy-going 5-0 win over Thai pugilist Pornnipa Chutee, Krishan had to work hard for a victory against third-seeded Japanese boxer Sewonrets Okazawa. He eventually prevailed against the Asian silver-medallist in a unanimous verdict. Indian Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju congratulated the winners.
It's a historic day for India! In a single day #SatishKumar becomes the 5th Indian boxer to qualify for #Tokyo2020 #Olympics in the +91kg category. This is going to be Satish's maiden Olympic Games. Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/dqFpaD33cy
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) March 8, 2020
“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 Rani, who had to fight against career-threatening hand and shoulder injuries before clinching the gold at 2019 Asian Championships.
Satish Kumar, Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Ashish Kumar (75kg) joined them to become the first set of Indian boxers to make it to the global sports showpiece scheduled for July-August later this year.
Borgohain, a two-time world bronze-winner and second seed, strolled past Maftuh Nakhon Melieva of Uzbekistan in the evening session to enter the semis.
“I managed to execute whatever I had planned. I wanted to fight from a distance and counter-attack, which I could do. Just qualifying is not enough, I want to now win a gold medal,” the Assamese boxer said after her bout.
Rani will face a challenging bout against the defending world and Asian champion Li Qian. The Chinese pugilist effortlessly beat Mongolia’s Myagmarjargal Munkhbat 5-0 in the day’s opening bout.
Krishan, on the other hand, will have a slightly lenient opponent in Kazakhstan’s second-seeded Ablaikhan Zhussupov in the semifinals. A 2-time world bronze-winner and a former Asian silver-medallist, Zhussupov got the better of Thai boxer Wuttichai Masuk in a one-sided verdict.