New Delhi: Manish Kaushik capped his senior debut at the World Championships with a bronze medal in his 63-kg lightweight division. The 23-year-old pugilist, who reached New Delhi to a warm reception with the rest of the Indian contingent early on Monday, said that that he went into the competition with the expectations that he would win a medal.
Kaushik said that he will now be focussing on the Olympic qualifiers with the Asia/Oceania zone qualifiers happening in February in China. The Boxing Federation of India had earlier stated that those who win medals at the World Championships won't need to go through the trials to enter the Indian contingent going for the qualifiers.
"Earlier there was the thing about going through trials but now that is not there. So now I will be focussing solely on the qualifiers. We will be evaluating our the opponents and will plan accordingly," Kaushik said.
Kaushik had a perfect record going into the semi-finals of the lightweight division where he faced eventual champion Andy Cruz from Cuba. He said that he was beaten for speed in the bout, which he eventually lost by a unanimous decision. "He was faster than me. After that I spoke with the coach and he told me that I need to work on my strength and focus on increasing my weight," he said.
National coach Santiago Nieva said that watching Kaushik perform at the Worlds "was a joy" and that he garnered praise from other contingents too. "Everybody was telling me how impressed they were with Manish. He is a model for how I want long range boxers to be and I would like the other Indian boxers to study him. Amit's (Panghal) style is difficult to copy because it is an individual thing. But in the case of Manish, if all our boxers can do 70 percent of what he did there, we will get a great base for good results in the future," he told IANS.
"He needs to become stronger. In the semi-final he was fighting with significant disadvantages in size and strength and these are things he needs to focus on. Manish's strength is to always land the last punch but in that match he was not able to do that and so he was outplayed by the Cuban. Of course, his opponent was pound for pound one of best amateur boxers in the last three years. But our task is to see how he can beat him. We need to analyse the footage of that fight and work accordingly," he said.
Kaushik said that the medal in World Championships has done a world of good for his confidence going into the Olympic year. "Boxers from around the world participate in this, so it is great that I have won a medal in the World Championships. Now I will try and do the same in the Olympics," he said.