Akhil promises Independence Day gift for country

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Beijing, Aug 14: A charged up Akhil Kumar today promised a great Independence day present to the country when he faces world Champion Sergey Vodopyanov in the second round of the 54 kg (Bantam) category event of the Olympic Boxing competition here tomorrow.

''It's a just coincidence that my crucial bout coincides with India's independence day. I'm someone who's very emotional about my country and I have to rise to the occasion,'' he said. The Bhiwani based pugilist is confident of taking on the Russian saying, ''it not just a wishful thinking on my part.'' ''I am not overawed by the Russian or anybody, I am here to win and if you get overawed by the opponent before the bout you have no business to be here.

''After all, the world champions or gold medal winners are human beings, it is the person who wins and loses, the World champions have also lost their titles so what is the big deal tomorrow, I just want to continue with the trend,'' he said.

''Let me tell you, winning an Olympic medal is no longer a wishful thinking for Indian sportspersons. That we can win was proved by Abhinav Bindra a couple of days ago and by Rajyawardhan Rathore in 2004,'' he added.

On his chances, Akhil said, ''I've set the goal high for myself and I am thinking only about gold, nothing less. Representing the country in Olympics is a dream and I want a fairytale end to it.'' ''I know it is going to be hard and tough tomorrow, but that is what the Olympics is all about. You just don't get medal here like that. You have to battle it out for every inch and that is what I plan to do,'' he added.

The bout coincides with the independence day and he would not run short on motivation.

''I have a desire to see an Olympic medal around my neck, I did not see the medal which Abhinav won but he has shown the other Indians a way,'' he stated.

Akhil was rated as the 'best boxer' at the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament in Bangkok this February.

The Indian had shown character by outclassing Athens Olympics silver medallist, Worapoj Petchkoom of Thailand, in the third round.

Ever since then, the Olympic bantamweight medal has been in Akhil's sight and is doing everything possible to get there.

Akhil is known to make his punches count, as he did at the Bangkok qualifiers and earlier in two Commonwealth Games 54-kg final bouts, and knows that a chance at Olympic glory is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

The Athens Olympics first-round exit is distant memory for the Indian, who is happy at the improvement in frequency of punches and increased range of his right hand, after working with Cuban and Indian coaches in preparatory and competition phases in the build-up to Beijing.

UNI

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