Shiva Thapa is India's lone boxer to have qualified for Olympics so far, but he is confident that more of his teammates will make the Rio cut at the last qualifying event — World Olympic qualifying tournament in Baku in Azerbaijan from June 16.
"Vijender Singh made us all proud by winning a bronze in Beijing. In the London Games, we had so many boxers. Though I am the only one to have qualified so far, I am confident many more Indian boxers will qualify from the Baku tournament," said Thapa, an Olympic Gold Quest supported athlete.
The 22-year-old, who became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics 2012 London Olympics (he was 18 then), in the 56kg category, where he lost to Mexico's Oscar Valdez Fierro in the first round. Thapa however, said he's worked very hard since.
"This is my second Olympics. I am totally focused and working really hard. The last four years have been a learning curve for me. I am looking forward to Rio and I'm pretty sure that we (Indian contingent) will return with more medals than we won in London," said the Guwahati-born boxer, who won silver at the Asian qualifiers in April in Qian'an, China, where he had to fight under the AIBA (boxing's world governing body) flag given the absence of an elected national boxing federation in the country.
"It's sad that we could not fighting under our country's flag. It's a matter of huge pride to represent the country and fight under its flag. But now thankfully the AIBA has permitted us to fight under the Indian flag in Rio, so that feels good," said Thapa.
Administration issues in Indian boxing continue and consequently Thapa has had fewer international practice events in the run-up to Rio. "If these problems could have been solved earlier, things would have been a lot better for us (boxers). "We would have been able to participate in more international competitions in the last four years. I hope this is sorted soon," Thapa signed off.
Photos: Karisma Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Shraddha Kapoor at Mumbai airport
Spotted: Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh at Mumbai studio
Photos: Mallika Sherawat at a restaurant in Bandra
Photos: Tina Ahuja, Gizele Thakral at a calendar launch
32 photos from Sidharth Malhotra's Instagram album you must see