'I do not have a huge achievement to boast about this year'
Olympics-bound boxer Vikas Krishan tells Laxmi Negi he's well-prepared and capable of returning from London with a medal.
The Asian Olympic boxing qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan, did wonders to Vikas Krishan. He did not participate in it, but with three other Indian pugilists -- Shiva Thapa, Sumit Sangwan and Vijender Singh -- booking berths to the London Olympics from the tournament, he got off the media radar.
The limelight he hogged since wining a bronze medal at last year's Baku World Championships, which ensured him a place at the Games, was immediately taken over Thapa, who, at 18 years of age, became the youngest Indian boxer to make it to the Olympics.
The 20-year-old Vikas believes it was the best thing to happen. It allowed him to "lead a normal life and concentrate on boxing".
"I do not have a huge achievement to boast about this year, and I am aware of the fact that public memory is very short," said the Bhiwani lad, adding it gave him time to sharpen the basics of his trade and focus only on the Olympics.
'If boring boxing can win me a medal, what's wrong?'
While the Olympics-bound Indian boxers are trading punches in Ireland as part of their final preparations for the Games, Vikas is busy preparing for a different battle. His final year BA examinations.
The 69kg category boxer is unperturbed by the fact that his teammates -- L Devendro Singh (49kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg) Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg), Vijender Singh (75kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) -- are preparing in earnest for the Games while he burns the midnight oil.
"I am mentally very strong. Even the coaches are aware of it. They let me take my decisions, be it in or outside the ring," he says.
Vikas, who won gold at the 2010 Asian Games, is often labeled as a boring boxer to watch because of his defensive tactics. Ask him why, and the reply is like one of his lightning jabs: "My focus is to win. Whether I have a defensive or offensive approach does not matter. It all boils down to the tactics that can lead me to victory.
"If boring boxing can win me a medal, what's wrong?"
'Excitement of competing in the biggest event of my life will catch on'
Call that over-confidence or whatever, but it is the hard work in training that has paid off for Vikas. Now he is just waiting to be done with his examinations and get cracking for the Olympics.
"People are asking me about my preparations; all I can say is I am training hard. I can rattle that answer straight out from my sleep," he says, adding, "though the excitement of competing in the biggest event of my life hasn't caught on, it will once my exams are over."
'It will be almost like home advantage for me'
Vikas rates his preparations as "70-80 per cent for now" and believes that the moment he steps into the Games Village the realisation will dawn upon him.
Talking of the Games Village, he says he'll be in familiar waters there.
"I have friends and relatives in London, so it will almost be like home advantage for me. Besides, I was one of the lucky few who competed in the Olympic ring for a test tournament. I am well-prepared and capable of winning a medal," he says.With a little over a month for the quadrennial extravaganza to begin, let's hope Vikas can make that 'home advantage' count and add to Vijender Singh's bronze medal from the Beijing Games four years ago.