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Boxers provide silver lining for India

By Ravi Kant Singh, IANS

Hyderabad : India failed to win a single medal Thursday at the 4th Military World Games here but were assured of at least five medals from the boxing ring as pugilists went through to the semi-finals at the G.M.C. Balayogi Indoor Stadium.

Hari Krishan Belwal, younger brother of 1999 MWG silver medallist Khemanand Belwal, led the Indian charge. He was followed by P. Narjit Singh, D. Bhagyarajan, Satya Raju and Mohinder Thapa into the semi-finals of their respective weight categories.

The men’s volleyball team playing in the four-team super league went down to South Korea 15-25, 23-25, 19-25 for a disappointing start to their medal hunt at the Yousufguda Indoor Stadium. China defeated Qatar 25-23, 25-14, 25-20 in the other super league game.

The Indian spikers face China Friday and Qatar the following day to decide the medal winners in the event.

Same was the case with the athletes as the only Indians figuring in the finals of the 4×100 and 4×400 relays finished a disappointing sixth.

Thomas Alex in the men’s long jump was eighth and Om Prakash was ninth in the 3,000 metres steeplechase in the individual events.

The boxers did the country proud, winning through against tough opponents from Europe and East Asia.

The most remarkable performance came from Bhagyarajan who faced Germany’s Ranit Karimov in the 69 kg class. Despite giving away nearly eight inches in height, the Indian recovered from the initial surprise to take the fight to his opponent and pounded him for a clear 23-14 verdict in his favour.

Thapa, probably making his last international appearance in the ring, proved more than a match for Matkovie Matej of Croatia, emerging a convincing 25-19 winner.

Thapa had the initial edge when he surprised his opponent with his left hooks and maintained the lead through the last three rounds to make sure of at least a bronze medal in the 81 kg class.

A.L. Lakra, Thoi Thoi Singh, Manpreet Singh and Mehar Singh were the four pugilists that failed to make it to the medal round.

With the track and field and swimming winding up, the focus will now be on the boxing ring Friday when the semi-final bouts will be contested.