Lakra faces a tough challenge

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Beijing, Aug 10 (UNI) It is going to be a tough outing for Anthresh Lalit Lakra when he takes on 2004 Athens Games bronze medal winner - Uzbekistan's Bahodirjon Sultonov - in the first round of 57kg (Feather Weight) category in the Olympic Boxing competition here tomorrow.

Lakra will like to emulate his teammate Vijender who fisted his way to the second round in the 75 kg yesterday.

Chief Coach GS Sandhu is hopeful that Lakra will cross the first hurdle. ''He is very good fighter, he is not overawed by his rivals and he fights with confidence.'' The 24-year-old Lakra has the distinction of being the first Indian boxer to qualify for the Beijing Olympics last year.

He gave an awesome display in the World Championships in Chicago, knocking out three opponents in a row to book the ticket for the mega Games.

The boxer from Jharkhand, has consistently been winning medals at the international level with his best performance coming in the Commonwealth Championships in Glasgow, where he won the gold out-pointing Britain's Stephen Smith.

Lakra, will have to be more swift. Though he has won several of his bouts without moving much but now he has realised that these tactics won't work, so he worked hard to be more quick and agile.

''My foot movement was a bit sluggish and the reaction speed was not up to the mark. But now I have improved a lot,'' he said.

According to Sandhu, ''Lakra is a much improved boxer now.

He has worked on his weak points by honing his skills. Now he just needs to display nerves at crucial moments.'' Lakra won a silver in Afro-Asian Games, 2003 in Hyderabad and followed it by Gold in Commonwealth Championships, Glasgow, and claimed a bronze this year in Chemistry Cup, in Germany.

Lakra's rival Sultonov is two year younger to him. He finished as the losing semifinalist at the last edition of the Games. This year Uzbek boxer has very little to show and will be banking mostly on his reputation.

UNI HSB RAR PM1700

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