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.-- Advertisement --
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-- Advertisement --
“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.-- Advertisement --
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.-- Advertisement --
“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.