Shiva Thapa created a flutter back in 2012 when at 18, he became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics. Fast forward four years to present and the Guwahati-born is all set to pack a punch at the Rio Olympics in two months’ time.
At an Olympic Gold Quest event in the city on Monday that felicitated Rio-bound athletes, the lone Indian boxer as of now to qualify for Rio hoped for things to improve.
“Expectations are a bit different since I am the only boxer flying to Rio at present. That aside, the Shiva that you guys saw in London is a very different Shiva from the one that will be participating in his second Olympics at Rio. I don’t even know how the four years have passed. The expectations for a billion people aside, it’s important that one sets expectations for himself,” said Thapa, who will participate in his second Olympics for the bantamweight (56kg) division.
Thapa is sad as he had to fight in the Asian qualifiers in Quianán, China, where he won a silver, under world body AIBA’s (International Boxing Association) flag due to the absence of an elected national boxing federation currently.
“Personally speaking, I have been training very hard for Rio. As a player, I have taken taken this on a serious note. I have been working hard regardless of the competition that I participate in. But I think this is very important that we get to wear the India jersey at a tournament instead of something else. Such things are all the motivation one needs. I felt bad that the India flag wasn’t raised at the Asian Championships in Amman, Jordan, back in 2013 where I won gold. It was the AIBA flag. But I am thankful to them that we got to participate.” said Thapa, who aims to follow Vijender Singh’s footsteps at some time in the future and turn professional.
“My target for now is giving my best shot at the Olympics. I would definitely like to play professional boxing like Vijender in the future but that’s not my focus right now. He gave Indian boxing a face to be proud of. I am hopeful that more boxers will qualify for the Rio Games as some qualifiers are left,” he said.