'I'm really sorry to have let you down'
'We have got a handful of opportunities. We used to train with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan but with the ban on the federation we lost the opportunity and nobody called us'
Distraught after a comprehensive quarter-final loss, Indian boxer Vikas Krishan (75kg) said he could not have done better than what he managed against the more powerful and compact Bektemir Melikuziev of Uzbekistan, at the Rio Olympic Games on Monday.
One win away from an Olympic medal for India, Vikas surrendered tamely to Melikuziev, going down 0-3 to end India's boxing campaign in the Games without a medal.
"I'm really sorry to have let you down. I tried to clinch the issue in the first round. But once he took the first round, it was very difficult to come back, and I almost gave up," said an emotional Vikas.
The occasion was India's 70th Independence Day and a win would have assured the country a medal, but with Vikas's exit, India are in danger of finishing without a medal for the first time since Barcelona 1992.
"I always hoped to earn India a medal on the Independence Day but I failed. I'm sorry," he said.
Vikas had predicted a tough fight when he set up a quarters clash against the Uzbek.
"I could not have played better than this. I cannot play better than this against a southpaw. I was trying for left and right hooks but could not succeed and he dominated."
Vikas, a rare southpaw in the country, was outclassed by Melikuziev.
"I always have lost to a southpaw, be it world championship, last Olympics or an Olympic qualifier. I've always lost to a southpaw. I did train well, but there're about five per cent southpaw boxers in India, and I'm one of them. So I don't get opponents of my standard," he said.
"As I was a southpaw, I had no answer to his blows. I don't get to train with a southpaw. I've requested many times to bring southpaw (for training)," he added.
He further said the banned federation meant lack of opportunity for him as they "did not have camp for the last two years and had only gone to the USA for fitness training."
"We have got a handful of opportunities. We used to train with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan but with the ban on the federation we lost the opportunity and nobody called us. But I am not blaming the federation, I lost because of my mistakes. I may have trained lesser than him."
Melikuziev had previously beaten the Indian at the Asian Championship in Thailand last year. Vikas said the 20-year-old has improved vastly in his speed from last time.
"He's improved a lot the last time I fought with him. They have prepared well unlike us where we have a lot of controversy back home in the federation. However I do not want to blame anyone. I lost and it's because he was better than me.”
Vikas has appeared in his second Olympics and asked if he would think of turning professional, he said: "I will go back home and spend some time with my family then I will think."