Vikas Krishan Yadav has come a long way from the disappointment of the 2012 London Olympics. Despite winning a bout, the bitter experience of elimination gave him a whole new insight to life. Exactly three weeks before the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Yadav is fully confident of returning home with a medal in his final Games.Currently in Patiala for a training camp where he has arranged his own opponents and support staff as part of his Olympic preparation, Vikas spoke to TOI Sports at length about his Rio ambitions, evolution from London and those 18 months in which he largely shunned the ring.Excerpts…You’ve been training a lot. Is there particular area you’re working towards?I’m concentrating on my speed and endurance, or to be more precise, I’m developing various combinations of punches for my attack arsenal. Not seven, eight or 10, but as many as 15 punching combinations. It’s actually no rocket science strategy. Simply put, the more the punches, greater the chance of them knocking out your opponent. Earlier I would mostly attack with single or maximum five punches. But now since the scoring system has changed in favour of multiple punches, the change in my game was inevitable. Also, I have lost a bit of weight and it’s brought about a fine adjustment to my body movement. In all likelihood, this is my last Olympics and I want to go out on a high.For long, only Shiva Thapa had qualified for Rio. Was there pressure on you to qualify since you had already been to the Olympics?Honestly, I had no such thing going in my mind. I didn’t even have one percent doubt that I wouldn’t be qualifying for the Olympics because during all those hours of rigorous training, I believed that not only would I qualify, but I’d return with a medal. That is what triggered the self-belief in me. My thinking was straight. I was planning on winning gold at the Olympics, and obviously no one does that without qualifying. Also, I was aware that the AIBA World Olympic qualification event was waiting and that would feature the best 15 boxers from the world. I knew I had to make it count there and fortunately I did.How much have you evolved from London 2012?Back in 2012, I wasn’t very experienced since I had just participated in about two major tournaments in the build-up to the London Olympics. Also, I didn’t quite understand the magnitude of the Olympics, how big it was and how crucial it is towards changing your life. I didn’t take it too seriously then, thinking that I had a long career ahead, so even if I don’t succeed here, I’ll get more opportunities. Today, I have none of those factors in my head. I know I have to win a medal and I’m going to do whatever it takes to make that happen. I have said that I feel I’m going to bring India at least a bronze and I stick by it.Is there any particular opponent you’re targeting?I don’t have any specific opponent in my mind as such. I just know that there are 28 boxers participating in my category, and I believe that of those 27, I can beat at least 17 of them. The remaining 10 will then depend on whether it’s my day or not. I have already defeated about 10 boxers from my category in the past, so I’m pretty confident of my chances.Yadav is currently training in Patiala where he’s arranged his own his own support staff (Getty Images)Mary Kom recently stated that boxing is dead in India. Do you agree with her assessment?I do. She’s such a big boxing figure in India and I can’t challenge her take on this matter. You can see for yourself. During the London Olympics, there were eight boxers who represented India, whereas this year we have only three – that’s less than 50 percent. Even when the qualifications were being held, at no point was there a doubt that anyone else deserved to qualify apart from us.It may be unfortunate, but it shows the bigger picture. There aren’t many qualified boxers in our country. They don’t get the infrastructure or events that they can use for their betterment. Neither do they have a proper federation they can look up to. Had that been there, the boxers could have automatically got the platform where they could extract something of.You’re only 24 and you’ve stated that the Rio Olympics is going to be your last. Why?I want to spend time with my family and friends. For so many years, I’ve been traveling places because of tournaments. For a change, I want to travel with my family and soak in the joy of a new place without the additional pressure of a competition. Boxing is very demanding, it requires you to be away from home practicing day in and day out. Often I would return home after everyone would have fallen asleep. At times, I don’t get the chance to go home for as long as three months. That being said, it doesn’t mean I’ll completely move away from boxing. If I can manage my family chores, then maybe I will continue.In London, when you were eliminated in the preliminary round despite initially being declared the winner against Errol Spence, you took a sabbatical. What went through your mind during that period?The London incident was bad. The extent of it can be imagined from the fact that I thought I was done with boxing. Thought I’d enjoy the rest of my life and figure out something else to do. It took about a year and a half to get out of that shell. And when I did I just thought, ‘why not give it one more try?’ I was bored sitting home and not doing something I had been doing for so long. As I resumed, it got better and today I’ll head to Rio de Janeiro for my second Olympics. Today I’m thankful for giving myself a second chance. I came back to win bronze at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.What is your take on the future of pro boxing in India? Do you see yourself turning pro at any point?I reckon pro boxing in India is on the right track. If everything goes well, more boxers from India might be turning pro. Vijender bhai is our inspiration and he hasn’t lost a single pro bout yet. He has set a benchmark that we have to achieve. As far as me turning pro is concerned, that is something I am not ruling out, but it’s not on my mind right now.Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.
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