India Will Bag Record Number of Medals at Tokyo 2020: Amit Panghal
Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Star boxer Amit Panghal believes that the Indian contingent at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics would return with a record number of medals as he feels there has been a significant amount of development over the years.
“I think we (boxers) are going to bag a record number of medals this time around. Not just in boxing, I feel in other sports as well, we are an improved lot. I feel we are going to come back with a lot of medals,” Panghal said on the sidelines of The Big Bout in New Delhi.
Boxers had returned empty-handed from Rio Olympics in 2016 – first time in eight years – but Panghal feels it won’t be the same this time around.
On being asked what exactly changed, which makes him feel so confident, Panghal said: “Firstly, I feel the combination between our foreign and Indian coaches has been terrific. We practice according to the schedules, looking at our opponents’ videos,”
“And from our tours abroad, we try and learn as much as possible from our opponents and use them at major tournaments. Even when we head abroad for training, it helps us a lot since we can learn about the pugilists’ style, look for weaknesses and train accordingly,” Panghal added.
Despite being world number one, Panghal has a daunting task at hand as he has had to shift weight categories keeping the Olympics in mind.
“Now that I’ve moved from 49 kg to 52 kg, I’ll have to do a lot of hard work because not everything changes overnight,” he added.
However, while Panghal should be one of the medal contenders, even a podium finish at the Olympic Games might not be enough for him to win sporting honours such as the Arjuna or a Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, owing to an “inadvertent” doping past.
But Panghal isn’t breaking sweat over it. Instead, Panghal reiterated he would prefer his formative coach Anil Dhankar being conferred with the Dronacharya.
“Well it (the recognitions) definitely motivates any sportsperson. As far as I am concerned, if I (ever) receive them it will be great but even if I don’t, then it really doesn’t matter,” he said.
The glitz of being a world number one, clinching gold on debut at the Asian Championships and silver at the Worlds, however, hasn’t let Panghal forget his humble past.
“Boxing is everything for me. Whatever I am today is because of boxing,” he said.
“Especially in the initial days, I didn’t even have money to buy equipment, including my boxing gloves. I borrowed money from friends to head to competitions, practice etc. Even until the 2018 World Championships, I didn’t have proper shoes. I had to borrow money from a friend to buy ring shoes,” he added.
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