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Akhil stuns Olympic silver medallist, bags gold

Source: PTI
February 02, 2008 21:22 IST
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Akhil Kumar out-punched Olympic silver medallist Worapoj Pitchkoom to complete an all-conquering run at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers by clinching India's lone gold medal and being adjudged the best boxer of the meet in Bangkok on Saturday.

The 27-year-old bantam weight pugilist, who on Friday became the second Indian after A L Lakra to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, drubbed the local favourite 21-11.

"It is certainly one of the most memorable wins of my career... right up there with the Commonwealth Games gold medal that I won in 2006," an ecstatic Akhil told PTI.

Apart from Akhil's gold, India ended the tournament with a rich haul of three bronze medals through Amandeep Singh (48kg), Dinesh Kumar (81kg) and Manpreet Singh (91kg).

For Akhil, the triumph caps a fantastic comeback from a career-threatening wrist injury, which kept him out of action for more than half of 2007.

"It is indescribable, mind numbing ... I never thought that I would be able to come this far after that injury which had rendered my right hand useless for some time," he said.

"It took a surgery and months of rehabilitation before I entered the ring again. Now that I have qualified for Beijing, it has given me fresh impetus."

The Indian stepped into the ring today with everything to win and hardly anything to lose.

Edgy to start with, Akhil trailed 3-4 in the first round before levelling the score 7-7 in the second and then going on a rampage to leave Petchkoom stunned by delivering powerful uppercuts and hooks.

Akhil established a 14-9 lead in the third round and scored eight more points -- against his opponent's three -- in the fourth and final round to emerge champion.

National coach G S Sandhu lavished praise on Akhil.

"It is a fantastic performance and I don't have words to describe how impressive Akhil was today... beating an Olympic medallist is a tremendous achievement."

"He was a bit nervous in the first round but calmed down soon and amazed everyone by going on the offensive in the last two rounds," Sandhu said.

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