Vijender calm before final shot at qualification
The Asian Olympic Qualifiers are the Indian boxer's last chance to book a ticket to the London Games.
New Delhi: The Asian Olympic Qualifiers are his last chance to book a ticket to the London Games, but star Indian boxer Vijender Singh claims he is not the least bit intimidated by the challenge at hand as the situation is all too familiar.
"I have always been under pressure ever since I won the bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics. It is nothing new for me. It's there before I leave for any tournament," the World Championship bronze-medalist said on the eve of the Indian team's departure for the Qualifiers, starting April 4 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
"There was pressure when I didn't get a gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. I went on to get a gold medal in the Asian Games but that hasn't lessened the pressure. All I can say is that I have become mentally better prepared to deal with it since Beijing," the 26-year-old middleweight boxer told reporters.
Vijender lost in the very first round of the first Olympic Qualifiers - the World Championships in Azerbaijan last year. But being on the edge is nothing new for him.
"It's the same situation that I faced before the Beijing Games. I had lost in two attempts and was left with just one chance. At that time, there were just two slots available and I went on to win the gold. This time, there are four slots in my category. So I have a better chance. I just have to make the semi-finals," he explained.
The strapping six-footer from Haryana also became a touch philosophical when talking about his prospects in the Qualifiers.
"I have to give my 100 percent in the ring and that I will do, but the rest of it is in God's hands. So hopefully he will be kind to me," he said with a smile.
Vijender has avoided going out of the country for preparation and has restricted his training to the National Institute of Sports in Patalia. The former world number one said he no longer feels the need to go abroad just to train as remaining at home helps him in recovering from niggles.
"I have been skipping build-up tournaments in the past one year because I feel comfortable training in Patiala. The facilities are there and I can also recover from injuries, if any, better when I am at home instead of a foreign land," he said.
"Niggles have to be taken care of before one heads for a big tournament like this one. Besides, there are youngsters coming up on the horizon and it is important that they also get exposure. So, if guys like me decide to skip foreign tours, the younger lot gets the chance to go out, which is good for the future."