Vijender Kumar on brink of history

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{image-Vijendar-great picture_21082008.jpg}Beijing, Aug 21: The strapping Jat from Haryana Vijender Kumar is on the threshold of history. A single individual act of semi-final win against Cuban Emilio Correa Bayeauix in the 75kg Olympic Boxing event here tomorrow will have a positive cascading effect on Indian sports.

Having already assured himself and country a medal, it is also going to be a moment of reckoning for the 23-year-old Vijender because his win will raise India's hopes and chance for a second gold in the Olympics which will be an unprecedented happening for the sports in the country and may break the stranglehold of cricket over other disciplines.

With a move from lightwelter to the middle-weight category and a morale-boosting points win over Athens Olympics best boxer Bakhtiyar Artigev at AIBA Presidents Cup under his belt, the Indian has emerged as the serious contender for gold in his category here.

The Bhiwani trio of Vijender, Akhil and Jitender have already taken boxing to the new heights and a win tomorrow and consequently in the final will see millions of youth embracing this non expensive sports in a big way.

''I am very confident of beating Emilio, though I am fighting against him for the first time,'' Vijender said adding ''I have seen his videos and analysed his style of fighting.'' Asked if he is under any pressure, Vijender said, ''The pressure is there because of the expectations. But I cannot afford to worry about the pressure. The more important task before me is winning tomorrow.'' ''My aim is to win Gold, and I am just not bothered about the reputation of my rival, my job is to fght and win which I will do,'' Vijender said adding, ''Several champions - Olympic and World - have suffered defeat here, reputation do not count, it is how one fights his bout will make the difference,'' Vijender said.

He said there was no question of his level of motivation going down after having being assured of the medal. ''You will see my motivation in the bout tomorrow, I want the title nothing else will satisfy me.'' The boxer opened his campaign here with a 13-2 win over Gambia's Jack Badou followed by a 13-3 victory over Thailand's Angkhan Chomphuphuang and a 9-4 win over Ecuador's Carlos Gongora.

Vijender was a silver medallist at the last Commonwealth Games and had won a bronze in the Doha Asian Games. But he lifted his performance to beat the Athens Olympics gold medallist Bakhtiyar Artayev of Kazakhstan in the President's Cup meet in Chinese Taipei.

His recent gold winning performance in a strong field at the Chemistry Cup in Germany is another proof of the boxer's ability.

Analysing Vijender's chances, chief coach G S Sandhu said, ''he is is a cool boy who watches his opponent and tries to beat his strong points. His straight punches are deadly.'' ''This is the best ever chance for him. But no one can predict the outcome because the Olympics is altogether different from other competitions,'' he said.

''We have shown Vijender his own previous fights video and his rival's video. The bout is going to be tough because Emilio is a very good boxer,'' Sandhu said.

The Cuban is Pan American champion and is ranked third in the world and had much tougher fights on his way to Semis.

He has a strong boxing pedigree with his father being the Gold medal winner at the Munich Olympics.

Vijender says by assuring a medal he has healed the wounds of Akhil and Jatinder and now, ''I want to go on to win and win, that way I will be able to repay my debt to my country and its people who have been praying for me.'' ''I have left behind memories of a first round exit in Athens 2004 and I am looking forward to step into the ring tomorrow.

''Before coming here I had won against the Olympic champion and that (win over Olympic champion Artigev) makes me believe this Olympics is going to be significant in my life,'' he added.

The Haryana boxer with fast hands and sharp reflexes, quick and decisive in the ring, Vijender has proved the ability to rattle more experienced rivals.

Inspired by his brother to try out the gloves, banking on form and ability to seize the moment, the 23-year-old is now set to leave his mark here and accomplish what no other Indian boxer has done before.

Every Indian must be hoping that he will seize the moment.


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