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Rediff.com  » Sports » Boxing: Vijender, Akhil make team for World Championships

Boxing: Vijender, Akhil make team for World Championships

August 18, 2011 14:00 IST

Rookie L Devendro Singh was the surprise pick while established names such as Vijender Singh and Akhil Kumar expectedly fetched a berth in a 10-member Indian boxing team announced on Thursday for the World Championships in Azerbaijan next month.

The 20-year-old Devendro beat the likes of Asian Championship silver-medallists Amandeep Singh and Thokchom Nanao Singh in the light fly weight 49kg selection trials to be picked for the biggest event of his nascent career.

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"I am very surprised at being picked. I just wanted to give my best at the trials but I didn't expect to be picked as I was faced with very established rivals. This will be the biggest competition of my career and I am looking forward to doing well in it," said the Manipuri, who is also a national youth champion.

Vijender SinghVijender, who won a historic bronze at the event the last time around, will look to better his performance in this edition of the tournament.

National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu called it a strong team with the potential of not just securing Olympic berths but also winning medals at the event.

"This team is a mix of youth and experience and hopefully it will do well. Devendro surprised one and all with his performance and I hope the boy repeats it at the main event," he said.

The World Championship, scheduled to be held in Azerbaijan capital Baku from September 22 to October 10, is the first Olympic qualifying event from where all quarterfinalists will make the cut for the London Games.

The second and final Olympic Qualification Tournament for Asia will be held in Kazakhstan in March 2012.

Apart from from Devendro, the Indian team hardly has any surprises to offer with the selection panel opting to go with tried and tested names.

The fly weight 52kg division will feature Suranjoy Singh, who has delivered medals, mostly gold, at every international events he has competed in the past couple of years.

In the bantamweight 56kg division, 2006 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Akhil Kumar managed to upstage his younger rivals such as Shiva Thapa, his own prodigy Jitender Kumar and Chhote Lal Yadav to get the selectors' nod.

The Indian Boxing Federation said that the 30-year-old, who has struggled with injuries and poor form in the past couple of years, was preferred over his rivals because of his "outstanding experience and ring craft which placed him head and shoulders above the other contenders."

Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Jai Bhagwan did not have much of a competition from Neeraj Goyat and others in the light weight 60kg category and was expectedly picked.

Another category that featured tough competition was the light welterweight in which Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj Kumar managed to pip Asian Games silver-medallist V Santhosh Kumar and Asian Championship bronze-medallist Balwinder Beniwal in the trials.

"Experience and superior tactical movements of Manoj propelled him into the winners seat for representing India at the first Olympic Qualifier," said IBF secretary general P K Muralidharan Raja.

Asian Games gold-medallist in the 60kg category, Vikas Krishan jumped a couple of divisions to welter weight 69kg but still managed to impress the selectors enough to find a place in the team.

The middle weight 75kg slot, as expected, went to Vijender, who would be heading to the World Police Games on Saturday.

In the light heavy weight division, Asian Games silver-medallist Dinesh Kumar emerged easy winner in the trials.

In the 91kg division, Asian Games silver-medallist Manpreet Singh defeated Commonwealth Games gold medalist Paramjeet Samota, who had shifted from the super heavy weight +91kg category.

As a result, Samota gave the trials in his previous category to get a place in the team.

The Indian team will be first proceeding for a training camp to France from September 10 to September 21 prior to their participation in the World Championships.

The Team: L Devendro Singh (49kg), Suranjoy Singh (52kg), Akhil Kumar (56kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Vijender Singh (75kg), Dinesh Kumar (81kg), Manpreet Singh (91kg), Paramjeet Samota (+91kg).

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