Four-time Asian championship medallist Shiva Thapa is gearing up to make his homecoming special by winning gold at the second edition of the India Open boxing meet in Guwahati from May 20. Armed with a silver medal from the GeeBee Boxing Tournament and a record fourth Asian Championships medal this year, the 25-year-old once again looks sharp and agile and is hungry to prove himself.
"Yes, there are a lot of expectations from me for the gold. I recently got a bronze medal from the Asian Championships and that tells me that the gold is not far off," Thapa said the medal in Bangkok in April, when he became the first Indian male boxer to claim four consecutive Asian medals. He had won a gold in 2013, a bronze in 2015 followed by a silver in 2017 at the same tournament.
At the Indian Open, he suffered an upset loss in the semi-finals in the first edition of the in New Delhi last year. "I am hungry to change the colour of the medal which is what I think every boxer would want to. And it will be all the sweeter if it comes at home in front of my own people," Thapa said looking forward to the meet at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati, Assam from May 20.
The Guwahati pugilist has his task cut out as he will shift to 63 kg to earn a Tokyo Olympics qualification berth from the World Championships. "Performing well here will give me a huge boost of confidence ahead of the World Championships. It will be critical to analyse the players who are coming to the India Open as I'll have to compete with quite a few of them in the World Championships as well," he said.
Thapa is among six Assamese boxers who will vie for the title at the upcoming India Open. "I am very excited to get a chance to play in my hometown. Getting a chance to inspire youngsters is a major source of motivation for us. When we first began at the sub-junior level, we used to get inspired by watching our seniors and how they used to play.
"Same way, if we too can motivate more youngsters to join our sport, it's really a blessing for us. Definitely, the North-east is a powerhouse of talent. If such major tournaments keep happening in the North-east, there will be a lot many youths and youngsters who will come up and take up sports as a profession," he concluded. 35 men and 37 women boxers from India are vying for glory as close to 200 pugilists from 16 boxing powerhouses will participate at the USD 70,000 prize money tournament.
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