Nashik: The Indian boxing contingent of 10 pugilists had a a rigorous training camp with boxers from five nations in attendance at the Irish institute of Sport in Abbotstown, Dublin last month.
India's chief boxing coach GS Sandhu was satisfied with the training camp where boxers from England, Ireland, Kazakhstan and Germany also participated. Prior to the 2012 London Olympics, Indian boxers had a similar training experience in Ireland, but there weren't any participating nations except Ireland.
The camp featured 29 Rio-bound boxers from five nations. The 15-day trip should come in handy for India's Shiva Thapa, who is the only Indian boxer qualified for Rio till date.
In 2012 London Olympics, he was a novice and made a first-round exit. This time, there is a stark difference though. The stakes are high, expectations are big and the preparation is even bigger. The 23-year-old pugilist is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for a medal in the 52kg-56kg bantamweight category at Rio.
"There are expectations from me this time. I need to work hard and stay focused. The Irish training camp was very useful, playing alongside the boxers from other countries helps," said India's youngest-ever Olympian, who will travel to Colorado, USA for further training later this month.
Shiva Thapa's modest house in Guwahati, Assam
Thapa is also on a strict diet regime. Thapa prefers fruits like apples, grapes and mangoes. Mushrooms and pastas also form a part of his diet. When at home, he prefers "Maa ke haath ka khana" with "Aloo ki sabji" being his all-time favourite.
Thapa's father Padam, who runs a mobile franchisee store in Guwahati, was instrumental in making his son take up boxing.
"I used to like combat sports since childhood. Earlier, my father encouraged my elder brother Govind and me to take up karate, but when he came to know that it is not an Olympic sport, he preferred boxing. He wanted us to become Olympians… that was his dream," said Thapa, who was inspired after watching Mike Tyson on HBO as a 10-year-old. "Then I saw Rocky. During this period, I started boxing very seriously," he said.
Meanwhile, coach Sandhu is happy with Shiva's preparations. "Shiva is technically very sound," said Sandhu.