Akhil, who couldn’t qualify for the London Games because he was overweight (61 kgs) for the 56kg category, told MiD DAY yesterday from Haryana Police Academy, Karnal where he works as the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP): “All eight boxers, including the lone Indian woman boxer M C Mary Kom, are capable of winning a medal. Luck plays a very vital role in such mega events. I am just praying that things click for our boxers. We can surely expect more than two medals from the team,” he said.
Akhil reckoned that he changed the world’s outlook towards Indian boxing when he stunned World No 1 Russian boxer Sergey Vodopenov in the round of 16 at Beijing in 2008: “In Beijing, I got a very tough draw. Defeating world champion Sergey in the round of 16 after being 2-6 down remains one of my most memorable Olympic moments. That win made the world take notice of Indian boxers as medal prospects,” he said.
Akhil did not want to dwell on his personal disappointment of not qualifying for London, but stressed on India’s potential.
He was happy for 18-year-old Shiva Thapa (56kg), who is the youngest to qualify from India. “An Olympic experience is most precious in an athlete’s life. For a young boxer like Shiva, he will get to learn a lot from just being in the company of international athletes at the Games village,” said Akhil. Despite being 31, he has not given up on his dream of winning an Olympic medal. “An Olympic medal means everything to me. I came close to winning in Beijing, but it still remains a dream for me,” said the Arjuna award-winner.