Medal hopes still alive

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Though Akhil Kumar has bowed out of the bantamweight boxing bout, India's hopes for the first Olympic boxing medal are not over yet.

Updated: August 22, 2008 09:00 IST
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Though Akhil Kumar has bowed out of the bantamweight boxing bout, India's hopes of a first Olympic boxing medal are not over yet as Vijender Kumar and Jitender Kumar are still in contention. They will secure at least a bronze each if they win their next bouts to enter the semi-finals.

Vijender Kumar (22 years old, 75 kg middle weight category): The Haryana boxer has been talked about for a while. A silver at the Melbourne Games in 2006 and a Doha bronze haven't hurt his reputation after he made a first round exit at Athens. This time, he beat Bakhtiyar Artigev, the Athens champion. Vijender, the son of a bus driver, trained hard for Beijing.

In his pre-quarter bout, Vijender thoroughly dominated to tame Angkhan Chomphuphuang of Thailand 13-3. A win against Carlos Gongora of Ecuador in the quarterfinal would assure him of an Olympic medal. The good-looking boxer is also a model.
Next outing: August 20, Wednesday, quarterfinal against Carlos Gongora of Ecuador.

Jitender Kumar (21 years old, 51 kg fly weight category): Making his Olympic debut, Jitender Kumar, a diminutive flyweight boxer from Haryana swamped Uzbekistan's Tulashboy Doniyorov 13-6 in his pre-quarter bout. He led in all the rounds.

He now meets three-time European champion Georgy Balakshin of Russia in the last eight on Wednesday and gets a chance to avenge his defeat in the 2007 World Championship by just one point.

Next outing: August 20, Wednesday quarterfinal against Russian Georgy Balakshin.

The Bhiwani boys don't just share a hometown. They also share a coach, Jagdish Singh, and a club, the Bhiwani Boxing Club. A medal would mean instant international recognition and monetary gains too. The Haryana government has announced Rs.25 lakh each for the boxers for reaching the quarterfinals. Gold would fetch a purse of Rs 2 crore.

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