Manoj Kumar, Vikas Krishan Enter Olympics, Sumit Sangwan in Hunt Despite Loss
Manoj Kumar thrashed Tajikistan's Rakhimov Shavkatdzhon in the quarter-final of AIBA World Qualifying Tournament. Vikas Krishan also qualified for Rio Olympics in the 75 kg category
Manoj thrashed Tajikistan's Rakhimov Shavkatdzhon in the quarterfinal 3-0
He'll next face European champion Pat McCormack of Britain in semi-final
Before Manoj, Shiva Thapa (56kg) had made the cut for Rio Games
Asian Games champion Vikas Krishan (75kg) and former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj Kumar (64kg) secured their place in the 2016 Rio Olympics by advancing to the semi-finals of the International Boxing Association's (AIBA) World Qualifying Tournament with dominating performances here pon Thursday.
While Manoj thrashed Tajikistan's Rakhimov Shavkatdzhon, second seed Vikas got past Korea's Lee Dongyun in the quarterfinals by a similar margin of 3-0.
However, Sumit Sangwan (81kg) lost to top seed Petr Khamukov but continues to be in the hunt for a quota berth as the fifth available spot in his category will go to the lucky quarterfinal loser, whose opponent goes on to win the gold medal.
Manoj will next face European champion Pat McCormack of Britain in the semi-final tomorrow. McCormack defeated Frenchman Amzile Hassan in his quarterfinal bout.
"Given the terrible state in which boxing is right now, I am relieved to have qualified for the Games. There was a lot of pressure on the team which is competing here and I am glad that I came good," Manoj told PTI.
"I am immensely thankful to the coaches, the Sports Ministry, the national coaching staff, the Sports Authority of India and my personal coach Rajesh, who is also my elder brother. Their efforts have helped me pull it off," he added.
Vikas, on the other hand, will be up against Turkmenistan's Achilov Arslanbek, who got past Italian Cavallaro Salvatore in his quarterfinal contest.
"I am extremely delighted to have secured the Olympic quota. It has been a long journey with quite a few ups and downs. I was confident in my abilities and always believed that I had what it took to reach the Olympics and put up a strong performance on that stage. My coaching staff along with my backers JSW have always had faith in me and I am glad that I have managed to justify that when it mattered," he said.
"I knew I could clinch the quota. It was important to put everything on the line, not hold anything back but at the same time fight in an intelligent manner. I have another big bout coming up and right now, I really want to go all the way here," he added.
Vikas and Manoj took the total number of Indian boxers assured of Olympic berths to three as Shiva Thapa (56kg) had made the cut for Rio during the Asian Qualifiers in March.
National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu described the duo's performance today as dominating.
"Manoj dominated all three rounds and boxed intelligently to win and qualify for the Games," Sandhu said.
"Vikas was similarly commanding in his performance and sailed past his opponent," he added.
Vikas, however, is a doubtful starter at tomorrow's semifinal as he has sustained a cut on his face. Both Vikas and Manoj had competed in the 2012 London Games as well. While Manoj had lost in the quarterfinals, Vikas was ousted in the preliminaries.
(With inputs from Suprita Das)