Devendro Singh Laishram fought gallantly against Spain’s Carmona Heredia Samuel in the semifinal of 49 kg category but couldn’t progress to the final. Since this category had only two quota places, Devendro’s loss meant he would miss the Rio Games and had to remain content with the Bronze Medal in AIBA’s World Qualifying Tournament in Baku. The other Indian hopeful, Sumit Sangwan lost his Rio chance in the 81 kg category for an altogether different reason. Sumit would have booked his berth if his quarterfinal conqueror Petr Khamukov of Russia had won the gold medal. But in a sad luck for the Indian, Khamukov allowed a walk-over for his opponent in the semifinal and Sumit went out of contention. However, the two Rio qualified Indian boxers bagged bronze medals despite losing their semifinals bouts. In 64 kg category, Manoj Kumar lost 0-3 to Britain’s Pat McCormack and Vikas Krishnan was medically unfit and conceded his bout to Turkmenistan’s Achilov Arslanbek in the 75 kg category.
Baku’s World Olympic Qualification Event was concluded on Saturday June 25. During the week, 39 Olympic quota places were awarded to the boxers in different weight categories. The tournament began with 469 boxers participating from 105 countries but most of them had to return disappointed. In the end, 9 nations shared 10 gold medals, while boxers from 24 different nations qualified for Rio 2016. Two days ago, two Indians had qualified for Rio but none of them could progress further in the tournament. In 64 kg, Manoj Kumar came a cropper against European champion Pat McCormack of Great Britain. The Indian lost 0-3 while the other qualified Indian Vikas Krishnan conceded his bout in the 75 kg category. Vikas had sustained a cut during his quarterfinal bout against Korea’s Lee Dongyun and couldn’t take the ring. Both Manoj and Vikas, however, clinched bronze medals in the competition.
On the last two days, India’s interest at Baku revolved around the performances of Devendro Singh Laishram and Sumit Sangwan. In the 49 kg category, Devendro fought his heart out against Spain’s Carmona Heredia Samuel but went down 1-2 in the end. Devendro’s loss meant that Samuel became the lone Spanish boxer for Rio from Baku. In case of Sumit Sangwan, the Indian had already lost in the quarterfinals two days back but still had an indirect qualification chance in the 81 kg category. He waited for the Russian top seed Petr Khamukov to win the final. But Khamukov had suffered an injury and couldn’t even take his semifinal bout. The Russian’s halt in the tournament was an automatic exit route for Sumit. Despite the disappointment, India can still take heart from seeing Manoj Kumar and Vikas Krishnan joining Shiv Thapa in the boxing competition in different weight categories of the Rio Games.