India have medal hopefuls in boxing: SJAM symposium

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Mumbai, Jun 7 (UNI) India's boxing prospects at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games came to the fore as Kishan Narsi and Jay Kowli, boxing officials attached to world body, AIBA, spoke at a Beijing Olympics symposium, organised by the Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai (SJAM) at the CCI here today.

World billiards champion Geet Sethi, sprint ace Ashwini Nachappa and former badminton international Uday Pawar were other speakers.

Akhil Kumar and Vijender Singh will be representing India at their second Olympics in Beijing after debut at 2004 Athens Games.

Akhilesh Lakra, Jitender Kumar and Dinesh Kumar will be making their first Olympic appearance. Kowli singled out Akhil (54 kg) and Vijender (75 kg) as medal hopefuls. ''Akhil is at the right age (27) and in form for a crack at the medal. Vijender has neat technique and has beaten Olympic champion Bakhtiyar Artayev of Uzbekistan recently.'' Nachappa, India's women's relay runner at the Seoul Olympics, felt that Indian athletes achieving personal bests at that level of competition will be great news. ''Anju George needs to cross 6.85m in the long jump to be in the running for a medal,'' said the Karnataka sprinter, now working with young talent at her athletics academy.

''Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal have made a mark, now two swimmers qualified for Beijing. We have the talent, the need is to have a system in place.'' Sethi, the moving force behind the Olympic Quest project for funding India's Olympians, talked about the response he came across as part of the fund-raising drive. ''I have met a carpenter and corporate vice-chairman, both willing to give and feeling a sense of pride in contributing to making an Olympic medal for India a reality. Our athletes need funds to prepare, we need to give them now instead of making them spend time filling forms,'' said Sethi, asking for collective recognition as a nation. ''We should make heroes of those who have qualified for the Olympics.'' UNI GS MAZ RKM RAI2113

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